2 years, 9 months and 15 days. That's how long it's been since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shrugged off the competition during an interview after the iPhone's public unveiling, until the announcement of Windows Phone 7 Series at Mobile World Congress. Since then, the smartphone market has rapidly evolved, and Windows Mobile has seen fierce and rapidly evolving competition. We've seen the introduction of two major revisions of Android and iPhone OS, incremental OS updates from RIM with BlackBerry OS, and full-on platform reboots from both Palm and Nokia. All the while, Windows Mobile has remained relatively the same, receiving subtle updates and slowly slipping from being a dominant player with almost 40% market share, to an increasingly marginalized platform showing serious age. 

It isn't much of a leap to see how much a complete platform reboot was needed.

Although the details that have been revealed thus far are relatively scant, it's safe to say one thing - Phone 7 Series is Microsoft's attempt to wipe its mobile platform of Pocket PC heritage, and instead rebuild with a new UI paradigm that does away entirely with the old. Gone are the throwbacks to Windows CE: its stylus driven interface, task manager, implicit multitasking, and start menu.

Instead, they've been replaced with something radically different and refreshing for Microsoft. The Phone 7 Series UI has taken nods from the typographically-driven user interfaces that Microsoft has designed in the past and given it the capacitive multitouch treatment. The Zune HD interface is what most point to (and rightfully so), but this typography-dominated style actually traces all the way back to the interface designed for Windows Media Center, and even borrows UI elements from the NXE Xbox dashboard, according to Windows Phone Program Management Joe Belfiore. Microsoft calls this style codename "Metro."


Although we haven't seen all of it yet, software is grouped into "Hubs." Microsoft has shown People, Pictures, Games, Music + Video, Marketplace, and Office very prominently as examples. The usual suspects are also present: Phone, SMS, Calendar, Email, Internet Explorer, and Bing search + maps. All of these applications have been given a hearty helping of "metro" design; simple rectangular shapes of color on a black background for a relatively spartan yet invitingly simple appearance. By their own admission, much of the experience still isn't fleshed out in its entirety, and placeholders still abound. But Microsoft is being forthcoming here by noting that much more will be shown at MIX10

A chief UI differentiator is the integration of what Microsoft is calling "tiles." Instead of adopting a strictly unitasking workflow, Microsoft hopes to leverage inactive display by using tiles that reflect constantly updated data. Although details are scarce regarding how much freedom developers will have with what can be shown, this functionality is essentially expected to  mitigate the platform's lack of traditional multitasking. 

Microsoft believes so strongly in this UI that they're disallowing modification to it by both carriers and manufacturers. 

Lessons From Windows Mobile
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  • kmmatney - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - link

    Posted from my iPhone, btw Reply
  • QueBert - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - link

    lol that's cute, I just sold my first generation 8 gig iPhone for $200. I know about 20 people with iPhones and 2 with Driods. what you said doesn't come close to what's really going on. And I'D bet money today that the 4G iPhone will outsell any Android by a huge margin. The fact I know 6 or 7 people who hate AT&T but still switched to just because they wanted an iPhone speaks volumes. Reply
  • QueBert - Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - link

    Just for shits and giggled I put 2 ad's on CL today, 1 for an Android and 1 for an iPhone 1st gen. Neither are phones I have, so far I've gotten no emails for the Android but 3 people have already asked about the iPhone. Mind you the Android I listed is a phone that came out within the past 5 months and the iPhone is over 3 years old. Where are all these people you claim are running to buy Android devices? WOOPS just got another email asking about my iPhone.

    Reply
  • Synaesthesia - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - link

    http://www.macrumors.com/2010/02/23/gartner-iphone...">http://www.macrumors.com/2010/02/23/gar...laims-th...

    Sales doubled in 2009 - still way ahead of Android, just behind RIM.
    Reply
  • ciukacz - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - link

    i hope that windows phone will be as good a LOB platform as current windows mobile is, but for example simplified multitasking does not bode well. Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, February 23, 2010 - link

    "Microsoft believes so strongly in this UI that they're disallowing modification to it by both carriers and manufacturers. "

    Sound familiar?
    Reply
  • darwinosx - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    I don't know how anyone can make any kind of judgements about Windows 7 Phone whatevertheyarecallingitthisweek. Microsoft has shown us almost nothing about it except for one level of UI with no indication of how 3rd party apps can squeeze their way in. My guess though is that Windows CE/PocketPC/WindowsMobile has such a bad reputation that Microsoft would have to come out with something really extraordinary to distract people from iPhones and Android. Android being a distant 2nd place to iPhone. I do think Google is going to learn the hard way about skinning and UI fragmentation just like Microsoft did. Android is being skinned because its current attempts to mimic the iPhone suck. Maybe they can get back to me when you can install more than a few hundred Mb of apps on the freakin thing. Or when the OS is optimized so that even a 1ghz proc doesn't have lots of lags or slowdowns when a bunch of apps are run. The half-baked Android OS is still beating out Blackberry, Palm, and Microsoft in capability which tells you how archaic those OS' and hardware are. I'll bet my next paycheck that the next iPhone coming in just months will blow everything else out of the water including Windows Mobile 7 when it is released someday. Reply
  • psypher - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    Am I the only one that sees this and thinks that this is looking like a great tablet platform as well? If the iPhone OS on a bigger screen makes for a good tablet (debatable), then this with native MS Office and a more capable browser (or possibly browsers if they let firefox and opera on) would just be killer. Integration with xbox live and all that other goodness is just icing on the cake. Reply
  • rjwerth - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    But will it require the phone to wake up and backlight turn on every time it changes towers like EVERY (#*$()* windows phone does now? Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - link

    My Diamond never turns on when switching towers. I can drive for a few hours and not have the screen turn on. Reply

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