Windows Phone 7 news from WPC10

Yesterday, at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft released the beta version of the Windows Phone 7 developer tools which include an updated and much faster phone emulator. Today Microsoft has shared some information about its “web companion” to Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone Live, plus a few other interesting pieces of information.

The emulator allows developers to test out their code in the Windows Phone 7 environment, but it has many of the default applications and settings removed from the operating system, only allowing people access to Internet Explorer, Search and a few options.

Despite being aimed at developers, a lot has been learnt by non-developers about Windows Phone 7 thanks to the masterminds at XDA Developers who, very shortly after the emulator was released, were able to expose the true power of the OS. Long Zheng then promptly recorded the below video going through each area of the mobile OS looking at how it functions and feels; suffice to say he seems impressed with it. I especially like how it will be possible to control media playback easily across the OS.

Not covered in the above video is the Voice Control feature of Windows Phone 7 which is accessed from holding the Windows button. There are three command types on offer in this version; Call, Find and Open, each allowing a user to ring someone, search using Bing or open an app. It will be interesting to see if this feature gets any media playback commands like Kinect for Xbox 360.

Voice Command in Windows Phone 7

A few things to note from this new emulator are that there is a lot of small additions and polish throughout. For example, there are now 10 colours choices for the accent colour throughout the OS; the accent colours are the links within the OS and the Live Tiles on the Start Page. Another notable addition is the numerous default ringtones and alarms which again Long has a video of. These small new features seem to indicate that Windows Phone 7 is very close to being finalised.

Also announced is that the engineering devices would soon be shipping out to developers, you can read more about it on Neowin here.

Today at WPC Microsoft mentioned Windows Phone Live, a new service to act as a “companion” to Windows Phone 7 devices, accessed through the web. In a blog post on the Windows Blog the company supplied some information about what this new service will be able to do; it sounds like a cross between Live Mesh and My Phone.

Live Mesh, the syncing software from Microsoft, had a short lived mobile version for Windows Mobile devices. With the folding of Live Mesh into Windows Live Sync, it would appear that this technology will be an inbuilt feature of Windows Phone 7. My Phone is Microsoft's web companion for Windows Mobile which backs up much of the content on a user’s phone and gives the user the option for locating, ringing and erasing data on a lost phone.

This new service from Microsoft is said to give “people a central place to see pictures they’ve published, view their Windows Live calendar and contacts, exchange OneNote files and access other information shared between the phone and the Web”. Neowin understands this new feature will allow instant uploading of photos to a user’s SkyDrive account (whether this is the special area of SkyDrive for Sync folders or the whole 25GB of storage is currently unclear) and the photos can be shared to other places on the internet from this new service or SkyDrive. Another aspect of this web companion will be to allow “people to find and manage a missing phone with map, ring, lock and erase capabilities right from [their] PC”. The functionality of this new service does sound like a combination of Live Mesh (or Windows Live Sync) and My Phone which further shows how keen Microsoft is to integrate as many of their services into Windows Phone 7 as possible. The most important part of this new service is that everything is absolutely free – free, as in free beer!

Windows Phone Live is currently online but requires a Windows Phone 7 device to be associated with a user’s Windows Live ID to explore the service so is not yet usable.

Microsoft have also announced that they are still on track to release Windows Phone 7 in time for the Christmas holidays; all signs and tea-leaf readings still point to an October launch for this OS. Furthermore, the company discussed the supported languages of the OS at launch and locations that the full Windows Phone Marketplace experience will occur. The initial languages of the OS will be English, French, Italian, German and Spanish and the full Windows Phone Marketplace experience will be available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK and United States.

Microsoft will have a few more announcements to make over the summer with at least one centred around games, where Microsoft will announce one of the centrepiece games for Windows Phone 7; there have been rumours of a Halo title for the mobile devices.

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hdood said,

Unless you're a developer, I suppose. No TCP/UDP sockets. No database engine. No ability to run native code. Just the stuff you need to make basic "click an image and hear a farting sound" apps.

No MS SQL Server Compact yet, althought it is actually included, and there are implementations of other database engines that you can use. And TCP/UDP sockets will be available after launch in an update probably. Same with the digital compass sensor - the API isn't available yet, but it will be.

geoken said,

I will choose this because I really like the Zune desktop app. I also think this will run a lot smoother than any Android device. Even with 2.2, my brothers N1 is still really choppy and laggy compared to my 3GS. There's still noticeable lag when flicking through the settings menu and pulling down the notification shade. I have no reason to believe that WinPhone7 wont be every bit as smooth as the ZuneHD

There must be something wrong there, then because Android runs very smoothly with 2.2 on my Desire, which is almost the same as the N1 minus the noise cancelling microphone and optical tracker in place of ball.

Subject Delta said,

There must be something wrong there, then because Android runs very smoothly with 2.2 on my Desire, which is almost the same as the N1 minus the noise cancelling microphone and optical tracker in place of ball.


Actually, I was talking to a T-Mobile employee that had a 2.2 updated N1 and he pretty much said the same thing

thealexweb said,

So Windows Phone devices are gonna struggle to stand out from each other.


Unlike Android phones, with all those custom OEM UIs...

...that hackers immediately remove and change to vanilla for almost every single custom firmware release for Android in the past year.

That's right. The people who love Android the most want it to look vanilla and uniform. Tadaaa.

rfirth said,
No MS SQL Server Compact yet, althought it is actually included, and there are implementations of other database engines that you can use.

Yet? Microsoft source that it's going to be available, please. As for bundling an engine (written in C#) with your app, what a pathetic solution.

rfirth said,
And TCP/UDP sockets will be available after launch in an update probably.

Microsoft source please, not just your guess. I find it hard to get excited about a product that is missing basic functionality that people think might be added at some indeterminate time in the future. Why defend poor products?

The_sidewinder said,

From a UI standpoint, maybe. Doesn't mean that they can't differentiate via other means. No one said that all WP7 devices have to look the same, or come with the same apps, or have other built in functions outside of the minimum requirements

Theres a limit to how many apps OEMs can bundle so from a software point of view they will be very similar.

Joshie said,

Unlike Android phones, with all those custom OEM UIs...

...that hackers immediately remove and change to vanilla for almost every single custom firmware release for Android in the past year.

That's right. The people who love Android the most want it to look vanilla and uniform. Tadaaa.

Vanilla UI is ok but I don't use it and only a small percentage of people install custom roms.

hdood said,

Yet? Microsoft source that it's going to be available, please. As for bundling an engine (written in C#) with your app, what a pathetic solution.


Microsoft source please, not just your guess. I find it hard to get excited about a product that is missing basic functionality that people think might be added at some indeterminate time in the future. Why defend poor products?

It was confirmed by a Microsoft developer on the WP7 site that TCP/UDP sockets would be accessible in a future update, and that SQL Server would be available as well (Which he apologized for not having ready for launch). The latter in particular I see as being an issue for developers, but it is coming. Though a timetable wasn't given, I personally expect updates to come fairly quickly... I know that's more speculation, but given the amount of focus Microsoft is putting behind WP7 and their desire to improve the product I think it's a reasonable assumption at this point.

thealexweb said,

Your not the only one.

Indeed. There's two of you who can't appreciate a typographical interface because you need shiny big buttons with lots of colors, otherwise you don't understand what to do.

warwagon said,
I must be the only person who doesn't like the look of the UI.

Nope! I agree with you. It is ugly and this may be the last dance for Microsoft when it comes to competition in the mobile game.

LiquidSolstice said,

Indeed. There's two of you who can't appreciate a typographical interface because you need shiny big buttons with lots of colors, otherwise you don't understand what to do.

ZING!

warwagon said,
I must be the only person who doesn't like the look of the UI.

Just wait until you see it running in a beautiful high contrast AMOLED screen, with subpixel font rendering, with the GPU powered effects not seen in the simulator and fully populated with photos from user's contacts, with notifications appearing in the home screen, etc. Not two Windows Phones will look equal, user's content will make them different.

Not shown on Long's nice walkthrough video is that you can change the background color (not wallpaper) of the phone, like from black to white, which I actually like. I'm not sure if I like the black-ness of the phone's background, though I didn't mind it before.

JVF said,
Not shown on Long's nice walkthrough video is that you can change the background color (not wallpaper) of the phone, like from black to white, which I actually like. I'm not sure if I like the black-ness of the phone's background, though I didn't mind it before.

Yes, and I can understand that preference, but with AMOLED screens, the battery savings from having a black background should be significant...

Electric Jolt said,
The emulator sucks for me. It flickers everytime I scroll in the browser or swipe to other pages. I think it has something to do with my GeForce 7300 LE.

Honestly, I've had issues with the Windows Mobile emulators as well (Though I have not tried the WP7 ones). I think emulators in general are just a little sketchy...

OMG! What is wrong with y'all? This Windows 7 phone looks a hot mess. Is this what they ignored all the current Windows Live Mobile phone owner's for? First the phone does not look appealing at all when it comes to looks. It looks just like the AT&T Fuze revamped. The display screen looks like a Brady Bunch Window. I was waiting for Alice to pop up in the middle of it. You got all these BIG ASS Letters and Logos that you just keep sliding across and up and down on the screen. People from a yard can see what is on your phone. The screen looks too small for everything that they are doing on it. Words are so big that they are running off the screen. The on screen keyboard looks horrible as well. I noticed that I did not see one finger touch that phone during the presentation. Also during the presentation there was no use of Bing search, Bing Maps, Windows Live Messenger mobile, Windows Live Mobile Application, Windows Live Mobile Web, and etc. How the hell do you use Google search and not Bing search when this is a Microsoft product? One thing I can say is that the Windows Phones 5.0, 6.0, and 6.5 had far more appealing looks then this Windows 7 phone. Even the OS on the past phones have looked better than this crap. Looking at this phone, there is nothing original about it. They stole from the iPhone platform and Droid platform and tried to do it all in one. Just a hot mess. By the time it is over you will still need a stylus to use the damn phone. That is why you didn't see any human fingers in the presentation. I have to give it to Microsoft, not only have they screwed over dedicated Windows Mobile Phone users with neglect of releasing up to date programs for our phones, but they may have used this phone in place of a middle finger to screw themselves. They have dropped the ball for sure when it comes to the mobile phone business.

Dude. First, the hardware depicted is just representative. This is a simulator for developers. The home screen with the tiles will have content on them when you start using the phone. Words running out of screen are to indicate that you can pan and see more content. Is like using typography to perform with function instead of an ugly scroll bar or an arrow icon. You won't see finger touchs in a simulator, watch videos with real hardware online. You wanna use Google search? Open the browser and go to Google. You won't need a stylus to use this phone, again watch other videos. I don't see what exactly they 'stole' from Apple or Android, since this GUI has nothing to do with either. Exactly what screen looks the same as an iPhone? I would say instead that Iphone, android and all other phones actually look the same: icons over a desktop that you pan left or right. Click on an icon and it opens. In windows Phone, you have active tiles with content that will take you to a panorama of several sections with consolidated information. Some people will claim anything is a 'copy' of iPhone. Jezz.

There still working on it so cant say to much, but from what I have seen. I hate the UI... Windows 7 on the computer looks real nice, clear and workable. But Windows on the phone, my god its large nasty and makes me wana tear out my eyes lol. Though im sure some people will like it, and as such it will all be fine, this is one phone though ill give a miss too.

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