Windows Phone 7: Everything You Need to Know

windows phone 7 everything you need to know

After years of scratching away at competitors like Apple, Palm and Google with Windows Mobile, the software equivalent of a steam shovel among bulldozers, Microsoft is finally ready to wheel out its own heavy equipment. Windows Phone 7 Series will arrive this fall, giving Microsoft one more shot to prove that the Windows name belongs in your pocket as much as on your desktop. A handful of prototypes made their way to press and developers early this week as part of a technical preview, giving a sneak peek at what’s to come. Here’s what you need to know about Microsoft’s last hope for mobile salvation.

Interested in a Windows phone? Check out our picks for the best Windows phones, as chosen by our reviewers.

What’s different about Windows Phone 7?

Everything. Microsoft has started completely fresh with the design for Windows Phone 7, so old users won’t even recognize the new interface, which now uses a system of tiles and hubs. Other major additions include voice recognition, integrated Xbox Live functionality, and multi-touch support.

How has the interface changed?

The old interface, was was originally developed for stylus input, has been replaced with a finger-friendly system of “tiles,” which represent functions like messaging, Facebook or Internet Explorer. They’re really just smaller icons within a system of six hubs, like Photos, Office and Games. Much of the navigation between them takes place with up-down swides and side-to-side panning from screen to screen.

The visual style has also changed with an emphasis on minimal clutter. Zune HD owners will immediately feel familiar with everything from the wiry sans serif fonts to the grid-like graphics and black background.

Will it run old Windows Mobile software?

Unfortunately, no. Due to the “fresh start” approach, code written for different versions of Windows Mobile won’t work on Windows Phone 7, so all your favorite apps will need to be rewritten.

What about an app store?

Microsoft has wisely decided to go with an app store, dubbed the App Marketplace, so you’ll be able to download new programs directly to your phone the same way you would on iOS, Android or webOS. Of course, all these platforms also have a huge head start on Microsoft.

windows phone 7 everything you need to knowWill Microsoft produce its own Windows Phone?

No. Although Microsoft produces the Zune HD – a very close relative of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has no plans to scrape together a phone of its own. The usual alliance of Microsoft partners, including Samsung, LG and Asus will produce the actual hardware.

Microsoft has, however, ratcheted down new restrictions on its partners, which will likely keep the first crop of phones to a more consistent quality than the scatter-shot selection of hardware we remember (not so fondly) from Windows Mobile.

What kind of hardware will it come on?

As noted above, Microsoft has imposed some severe restrictions on OEMs to ensure Windows Phone 7 doesn’t end up on hardware that simply can’t deliver the full experience. According to Microsoft, every Windows Phone 7 device will require:

  • Capacitive touch screen with 4 or more contact points
  • A-GPS, accelerometer, light and proximity sensors
  • 5-megapixel or better camera with flash and hard shutter button
  • Codec acceleration for multimedia
  • 256MB or more of RAM, 8GB or more of flash memory
  • GPU with DirectX 9 acceleration
  • ARM v7 Cortex, Scorpion or better CPU
  • FM radio tuner
  • Dedicated back, start, search, camera and power buttons

Will it multitask?

Amazingly enough, no. Microsoft has already come out and admitted that Windows Phone 7 will not run multiple applications at once, as part of its emphasis on simplicity. A process internally dubbed “tombstoning” will save your state in an application so you can return to it without losing your place, but processes won’t run in the background. Considering webOS, Android and even iOS now support multi-tasking, this will put Windows Phone 7 at an immediate disadvantage.

What else is a missing?

Based solely on first impressions, the only other notable missing feature will be copy and paste, which Microsoft has apparently left out for the sake of simplicity, just like multitasking. Some hints from Microsoft developers seem to suggest that both features have already been planned as upgrades later on, after smoothing out the initial kinks.

Will it support Flash, Silverlight or HTML5?

The technical preview distributed to developers and journalists lacked all three platforms, but Adobe has already pledged it will work to develop a version of Flash for the production version, and Microsoft will naturally provide Silverlight support as well. However, because the browser is based on Internet Explorer 7, it looks like HTML5 will be a no go. That will certainly put it (even more) at odds with the Apple camp, where Steve Jobs has pulled the opposite approach by barring Flash and embracing HTML5.

When will it become available?

Microsoft still hasn’t announced any firm release dates, but it October and September both seem likely candidates for the first assault of Windows Phone 7 devices.

Mobile

Rekindled yet again, Nokia’s next-gen phones offer more than just nostalgia

HMD Global, a startup that designs and builds Nokia Android smartphones, wants to put the Nokia brand name back “where it belongs.” It helps that it’s made up of ex-Nokia employees. We go behind the scenes to see how HMD formed.
Computing

Microsoft is getting ready for a coming wave of foldable Windows 10 devices

Windows 10 might soon have a new look. A leaked string for an internal Windows 10 19H1 build shows that Microsoft is getting ready to build Windows 10 for a future wave of foldable devices.
Computing

Microsoft will end support for Windows 7 one year from now

Microsoft is set to end extended support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020, putting a halt on the free bug fixes, and security patches for most who have the operating system installed. 
Computing

Firefox will disable Flash on its browsers by default in 2019

Mozilla's Firefox browser will continue to do its part in deprecating the Flash plugin this year with new plans revealed to disable it by default in an upcoming Nightly build, followed by a stable release in September.
Apple

Rumors say Apple's AirPower wireless charger may finally be in production

At its September event in 2018, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Computing

Beam up the videos: AirPlay support is coming to VLC player

At CES 2019, the developers of VLC player announced they are adding support for Apple's Airplay feature, allowing consumers to beam video and other content from their iPhone and Android devices to an Apple TV. 
Mobile

Oppo could reveal a new smartphone with a 10x optical zoom

Cracking a solid zoom on smartphones has been a riddle many years in the solving. One company may have finally cracked it though: Oppo may be about to show off a phone with a 10x optical zoom.
Mobile

The LG G8 ThinQ may arrive at MWC 2019 with an on-screen speaker

LG is expected to release a successor to the LG G7 ThinQ, possibly called the LG G8 ThinQ, this year and rumors about it are already spreading. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Outdoors

Nike’s Adapt BB shoes let you tighten your laces with an iPhone

The new Nike Adapt BB shoe comes with smartphone connectivity that allows the user to tighten the laces using a smartphone while providing the ability to adjust tension throughout the game.
Wearables

How to switch TicHealth to Google Fit on the Mobvoi TicWatch C2 and TicWatch Pro

The Mobvoi TicWatch C2 and TicWatch Pro are both much-loved and feature-packed watches, and they offer excellent fitness tracking. Recently, Mobvoi has switched out Google Fit for TicHealth, but you can switch them back. Here's how.
Mobile

If you're looking for a good laugh, here are 70 questions to ask Siri

Siri has come a long way since her first appearance on the iPhone 4S in 2011. We know she can make appointments and give directions, did you know she can make you laugh too? If you want proof, here are lots of funny questions to ask Siri.
Mobile

Benchmark results show Snapdragon 855 destroys previous-generation chip

Almost exactly a year after the launch of the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm took the wraps off of its next-generation mobile platform, the new Snapdragon 855. The new chip puts an emphasis on A.I. performance.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Mobile

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best cheap phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget smartphones.