Microsoft’s CEO converges Windows Mobile 7 with Xbox LIVE and Zune

16 Feb 2010

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MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2010, BARCELONA – An effusive Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took to the stage yesterday at the Mobile World Congress to reveal the future shape of Microsoft’s mobile vision – Windows Mobile 7 – which has enough firepower to deliver on the promise of the Xbox and Zune combined.

At a packed press conference in Barcelona, Spain, last night, Ballmer revealed that for the first time ever, Microsoft will bring together Xbox LIVE games and the Zune music and video experience on a mobile phone, exclusively on Windows Phone 7 Series.

He said that Microsoft’s partners have already started building phones and said customers will be able to purchase the first phones in stores by Christmas.

“Today, I’m proud to introduce Windows Phone 7 Series, the next generation of Windows phones,” said Ballmer.

“In a crowded market filled with phones that look the same and do the same things, I challenged the team to deliver a different kind of mobile experience. Windows Phone 7 Series marks a turning point toward phones that truly reflect the speed of people’s lives and their need to connect to other people and all kinds of seamless experiences.”

The Windows Phone 7 Series experience

With Windows Phone 7 Series, Microsoft takes a fundamentally different approach to phone software. Smart design begins with a new, holistic design system that informs every aspect of the phone, from its visually appealing layout and motion, to its function and hardware integration.

On the Start screen, dynamically updated “live tiles” show users real-time content directly, breaking the mold of static icons that serve as an intermediate step on the way to an application. Create a tile of a friend, and the user gains a readable, up-to-date view of a friend’s latest pictures and posts, just by glancing at Start.

Every Windows Phone 7 Series phone will come with a dedicated hardware button for Bing, providing one-click access to search from anywhere on the phone, while a special implementation of Bing search provides intent-specific results, delivering the most relevant web or local results, depending on the type of query.

Windows Phone 7 Series hubs

Windows Phone 7 Series hubs on devices bring together related content from the web, applications and services into a single view to simplify common tasks. Windows Phone 7 Series includes six hubs built on specific themes reflecting activities that matter most to people:

People. This hub delivers an engaging social experience by bringing together relevant content based on the person, including his or her live feeds from social networks, and photos. It also provides a central place from which to post updates to Facebook and Windows Live in one step.
Pictures. This hub makes it easy to share pictures and video to a social network in one step. Windows Phone 7 Series also brings together a user’s photos by integrating with the web and PC, making the phone the ideal place to view a person’s entire picture and video collection.
Games. This hub delivers the first and only official Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including Xbox LIVE games, Spotlight feed and the ability to see a gamer’s avatar, achievements and gamer profile. With more than 23 million active members around the world, Xbox LIVE unlocks a world of friends, games and entertainment on Xbox 360, and now also on Windows Phone 7 Series.
Music and video. This hub creates a media experience that brings the best of Zune, including content from a user’s PC, online music services and even a built-in FM radio into one simple place that is all about music and video. Users can turn their media experience into a social one with Zune Social on a PC and share their media recommendations with like-minded music lovers.
Marketplace. This hub allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with certified applications and games.
Office. This hub brings the familiar experience of the world’s leading productivity software to the Windows phone. With access to Office, OneNote and SharePoint Workspace all in one place, users can easily read, edit and share documents. With the additional power of Outlook Mobile, users can stay productive and up to date while on the go.

Ballmer said that device makers from around the world have committed to include Windows Phone 7 Series in their portfolio plans.

They include mobile operators AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange, SFR, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telstra, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, and manufacturers Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC Corp., HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Qualcomm Inc.

By John Kennedy

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Photos: The Windows Phone 7 Series

Windows 7 Phone Series

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com