By James Booth
Previous versions of Windows Mobile truly were tailored for power users, with file explorers, screen capture utilities, and the ability to customize nearly every aspect of the OS. But what of Windows Phone 7, the new mobile OS from Microsoft?
How does it compare to previous versions? Is it geared for power users? Or is it tailored for the more mainstream market? That's what I set out to discover by doing this in-depth review.
What it is
Designed from the ground up as a totally new mobile operating system, the intent of Windows Phone 7 is to directly compete with the iPhone/iPod market. Like Apple's mobile OS, WP7 (Windows Phone 7) is graphically driven, using touch/swipe technology and gestures. Icons representing the most-used apps can be arranged to suit the user's needs, as shown in Figure A, and the whole interface is entertainment driven.FIGURE A
The Home screen of Windows Phone 7 (click for larger image)
As in previous versions of Windows Mobile, a mobile version of Microsoft Office has been incorporated, allowing users to access their Office files while on the go through Windows Live and SkyDrive, and to edit and share them with Sharepoint. For those who use it, a mobile version of OneNote has been included as well.
As in past versions, WP7 includes your Calendar and Contacts, keeping you informed and connected while on the road, syncing them with Windows Live. Also included in Windows Phone 7 is a mobile version of Internet Explorer for mobile Web surfing.
With the new focus on entertainment, WP7 puts movies, music, games, and pictures right at your fingertips.
Using the connection to Xbox Live, a multitude of games are easily available for download and play. In addition, many more can be found on the Marketplace, the WP7 online store. More than just games can be found on the Marketplace though. A wide variety of utilities, apps, novelties, and eBooks are also available at the WP7 Marketplace.
Music and videos are accessed through a single hub, with the ability to create your own playlists. Pictures can be viewed by date, category, all together, or by user-created albums.
Windows Phone 7 takes social networking to a new level. By interlinking your contacts, calendar, even photos, with online social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc., you continuously have the most recent updates from your friends and associates at all times; and you can respond and reply in turn.
What it's not
What Windows Phone 7 is not anything like the previous versions of Windows Mobile. In fact, it is not backward compatible, meaning no software designed for previous versions of Windows Mobile will run on WP7. It is so unlike its predecessors that it's a completely different animal.