The first Windows phone Series 7 smartphones, unveiled on day one of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, will hit Australian stores before Christmas according to a Microsoft Australia spokesperson.
Speaking to GoodGearGuide at Microsoft’s official launch of the latest version of their mobile operating system, Microsoft’s business operations director Tony Wilkinson confirmed the first devices should land down under “before Christmas.” Though he couldn’t specify an exact date, the Australian launch therefore should fall in line with the rest of the world.
Speaking of all things Windows phone, we were lucky enough to get our hands on an official, pre-production version of Windows phone 7 Series for about half an hour and were taken through the basics of the new user interface. From the moment we were shown the home screen we were impressed — the new style looks and feels innovative. Throughout the demo it seemed simple yet effective in its presentation — very polished and therefore very unlike Microsoft.
The home screen in particular makes plenty of sense. Microsoft has used a combination of what they call tiles — these tiles can be shortcuts to applications or a whole range of live content, including multimedia and people. Some of these hubs aggregate a wide range of content from various sources, for example your friends status updates on Facebook, his e-mails, his tweets or his SMS messages.
There are also a few very non-Microsoft like features of Windows phone 7 Series. Firstly, the user interface will look the same on every device, regardless of manufacturer. The likes of HTC and Samsung can create content and applications for the Windows platform, but skins like HTC’s Sense and Samsung's TouchWiz (used on Windows Mobile 6.5 devices) won’t exist anymore.
Secondly, all Windows phone 7 Series devices have a strict set of hardware requirements. For example, each phone regardless of size or form factor must have three physical hardware buttons (back, Start and search), must have a 5-megapixel camera as a minimum, must have an on/off switch, must have the same screen resoluton and must have a certain processor (exact details weren’t revealed). Microsoft says this is a way of ensuring the user experience remains positive and seamless across all devices, and we tend to agree.
Though our unmarked demo unit was a little sluggish in certain areas, it is a very early software release — with almost a full year before its officially released, we are eagerly anticipating a play with the final version. Purely in terms of the user experience, we think that Microsoft may have finally hit the jackpot.
Ross Catanzariti travelled to Mobile World Congress 2010 as a guest of Samsung.