Microsoft Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7 review: Microsoft's new mobile phone operating system -- Windows Phone 7 -- is slick, easy to use and well designed.

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Microsoft Windows Phone 7
  • Microsoft Windows Phone 7
  • Microsoft Windows Phone 7
  • Microsoft Windows Phone 7
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Refreshing UI, excellent performance, excellent Office integration, heavy social network integration, great on-screen keyboard

Cons

  • No copy and paste, no multitasking, limited controls in landscape browser view, no native Twitter support, no Flash support in IE, no DivX/Xvid support, no tethering

Bottom Line

Windows Phone 7 is far from perfect and is missing some important functionality, but overall this is a refreshing change for Microsoft. Effectively starting with a fresh canvas, Windows Phone 7 is slick, easy to use and well designed. Time will tell whether Windows Phone 7 devices will make a significant impact on the market, but if you're looking for a new smartphone, a Windows Phone is definitely worthy of consideration.

Would you buy this?

Office mobile and Internet explorer

Naturally, the OS comes with the full OneNote Office mobile suite, including applications to create, view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. Both Android and iPhone platforms require the purchase of third-party applications to provide similar functionality, and from what we've seen they aren't as polished and well integrated as Microsoft's offering.

Text editing in Word documents, as well as e-mails and messages, is straightforward, though perhaps not as polished as on the iPhone. Holding down on text brings up a blinking cursor which you then drag and drop into a new position. A major missing feature is copy and paste — though this may not be missed much for regular phone functions, its absence in an otherwise excellent document creation suite like Office is disappointing. Microsoft has promised copy and paste will be added in a future software update, but hasn't provided a timeframe.

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Windows Phone 7 has an advantage over competing mobile phone operating systems: it includes a full office suite to create, view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.

Also on offer is the OneNote application; conveniently, you can pin new notes to the home screen, and you can also format notes with bold and italic text, bullet point and numbered lists, and add pictures and audio recordings. You can choose to synchronise and access notes through Windows Live SkyDrive, a free online service that provides 25GB of storage.

The Windows Phone 7 browser is excellent for a debut offering. The browser is fast and multitouch zooming is smooth. You can also double tap blocks of texts to zoom in, and the browser has no trouble rendering most pages. You can also use the browser in landscape mode, but you annoyingly can't type in a new web address, switch tabs or access any other settings; to do so you'll need to switch back to portrait mode. Like the iPhone, the Windows Phone 7 browser lacks Flash. There is also no ability to tether a Windows Phone 7 device to a notebook or PC, which will disappoint road warriors.

Marketplace, multimedia and games

Third-party apps can be downloaded from the Marketplace, Microsoft's answer to Apple's App Store. As with any new platform, the number of apps is limited when compared to iPhone and Android platforms, but will only grow in the future. The Marketplace is easy to use and navigate, with the same panoramic interface as the rest of the OS. Non-free apps can be purchased with a credit card (which can be securely saved for future purchases), although Telstra customers can purchase apps through mobile billing. Although the number of apps available is currently limited, high profile offerings include the likes of eBay, Shazam, The Sims, and Domain.com.au. Disappointingly, there is no multitasking for third-party apps; you can listen to music and type an e-mail at the same time, but can't multitask with any apps downloaded from the marketplace.

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The Windows Phone 7 Marketplace is easy to use.

Music and videos are grouped into a single hub, and this also includes the FM radio, which is standard on all Windows Phone 7 devices. Multimedia is synchronised to the handset via included Zune software; currently this is only compatible with Windows PCs, but Microsoft has promised a version for Mac users by the end of 2010. We liked the history menu, which allows you to quickly access the last two items played, and the ability to pin individual videos, songs and even FM radio stations to the homescreen is an excellent feature. Unfortunately, Windows Phone 7 won't play DivX or Xvid files.

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Windows Phone 7 integrates Xbox Live multiplayer gaming through a games hub and more than 50 games are available at launch.

Windows Phone 7 integrates Xbox Live multiplayer gaming through a games hub. Users can log into any existing Xbox Live account and see their avatar and gaming achievements from any console games, as well as message Xbox Live friends. More than 50 games will be available at launch including titles from Gameloft, Konami, Namco Bandai, PopCap and THQ.

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