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.

Product Review

Fitbit’s trimmed-down Versa Lite still has all the smartwatch features you need

Fitbit trimmed some of the features it bundles in its popular Versa smartwatch to keep the price low on it newest smartwatch, the Versa Lite. Does this strategy work? Read our review to find out.

Tips and tricks to get you started with your new Fitbit Inspire HR

The Inspire HR may be an entry-level fitness tracker in Fitbit's lineup, but the device still has plenty of features to explore. These are our favorite tips and tricks to help you use the Inspire HR to its fullest potential.

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G might be a few short weeks away from launch

Samsung has announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show as it's among the first 5G-ready smartphones to hit the market.

T-Mobile goes after big cable companies, pilots wireless home internet service

In a shot at big cable companies, T-Mobile is launching a new pilot program to bring an unlimited wireless LTE home internet service to up to 50,000 homes across the United States by the end of 2019.

Apple patent suggests Apple Watch bands could have built-in fitness indicators

Apple may be exploring ways to make Apple Watch bands a little more useful. A new patent has been filed by Apple that suggests Apple Watch bands could eventually have indicators for things like fitness goals.

Type away on the best iPad keyboard cases, from the Mini to the Pro

Whether you're looking to replace your laptop with a tablet or merely want to increase your typing speed, a physical iPad keyboard is the perfect companion to the iPad. Check out our top picks for every available iPad model.

Apple patents hint at improved Apple Store and unboxing experiences

It looks like Apple is working on ways to improve the Apple Store and product unboxing experiences. The company has been awarded a few patents, largely for tech that can be used in product packaging to ensure products stay charged.

Fossil made a smartwatch in 2004, and it’s part of a new brand retrospective

Fossil has been making watches for 35 years, and to celebrate the anniversary, it has a new retrospective exhibit complete with the first smartwatch it made — the Wrist Net watch from 2004.

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for March 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.

Fossil is working on a smartwatch with BMW, and it’s coming next year

Fossil, the watch company that makes smartwatches under its own name and partners with other major brands too, intends to launch a smartwatch with car manufacturer BMW in the future.
Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.

Nokia phones are being investigated for allegedly sending data to China

Nokia could be in some hot water. According to recent reports, Nokia 7 models may be secretly sending data to China without the user knowing about it. Nokia says that the issue was a software bug and that it has been fixed.