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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  • poopyman67 - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    Am I the only one wondering what win7 series is gonna be based off of? I'm guessing winmo6. The only problem is that 7 is a HUGE departure from 6. This is where ms really hurts itself in my opinon. They don't have a system like Linux or unix that they can strip down. Then again, it seems to me a waste to write a new scheduler, file manager, etc. It seems to me at least that it's going to take a completely rewritten OS from ms to make 7 successful.

    Too bad they don't do the same on the desktop, but I guess that's comparing apples to oranges.
    Reply
  • zicoz - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    They have Windoed CE, and I think that is what WinMo is based on, I think WM 6.5 is based on CE 5.x, and rumors have it that WP7 will be based on CE7 Reply
  • ncage - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    You don't know that. Microsoft has some of the smartest people in the industry eventhough it seems very fragmented at times. I'm sure the people who wrote the underpinnings segregated into layers in the such that it would be easier to modify in the future. They aren't stupid and there are some damn good system architects there. I've heard from a few sources (engadget i think was one of them) that they totally scraped WinMo 6.5.x and started from scratch. While they don't have linux running i'm sure they have a lightweight OS at its core and then add to that. Reply
  • darwinosx - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    It's been a long time since it was cool to work at Microsoft. The best people are beat down by the layers of stifling management. Doing things the right way is not important. Feature lists and shipping dates are. Thats why Windows is still a mess after all these years. Quoting Engadget tells me you don't know much about the subject. That and your inability to write coherently. I'm betting you are a teenager who doesn't know jack. Reply
  • mlambert890 - Thursday, February 25, 2010 - link

    Your handle, your ad-hominem attacks on that guy, your extremist myopia and your obnoxious arrogance all tell me (and probably everyone else) that you're an a-hole. Reply
  • lordmetroid - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    While they may have some geniuses. Statistically, a company that develops behind closed doors have an insignificant percentage of the all geniuses while a company that develops in the open and allows anyone to contribute can have all geniuses developing the product. Reply
  • Magius - Wednesday, February 24, 2010 - link

    Let me turn that on you:
    Statistically, a company that develops behind closed doors have complete control of who develops its products (aka. geniuses) while a company that develops in the open and allows ANYONE to contribute can have all the opinionated idiots that think themselves geniuses (plus real geniuses here and there) developing the product.
    Reply
  • poopyman67 - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    Oh I don't deny that they have smart people. They've done some great work in research. I just find that they like to take the fast and easy route. Think of windows and flight sim x. Vista was pretty bloaty and light sim x is terribly inefficient.

    I just think that a total rewrite is neccessary to make 7 series successful.
    Reply
  • deputc26 - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    Even Apple-Loving Engadget Has recently given an Android handset "Best gadget of the year" for 2009 as well as best smartphone and best gps.

    http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/22/the-winners-of-...">http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/22/the-...s-of-the...
    Reply
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