Mobile Phone What did bloggers make of Microsoft's big announcement at Mobile World Congress this week?

As we reported in our news section, Microsoft yesterday at MWC unveiled the next version of its operating system for mobile phones. Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series features a move away from applications and towards functions.

"It's all about the phone and how consumers react to the device," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

"Phones looked like PCs, but a phone is not a PC, it's smaller, more personal," said Joe Belfiore, vice president for Windows Phone.

Apple blog site Macrumors was quick off the mark, recording Microsoft's announcement:

"One of the software's key features is the use of integrated "hubs", offering content views based on content rather than specific applications. Hubs will include People, Pictures, Games, Music+Video, Marketplace, and Office."

"In addition, "live tiles" on the system's Start screen will offer real-time information updates, and a dedicated hardware button will provide one-click access to Bing search tools."

Windows 7 Phone Series: why?

So much for the what, but why has Microsoft done this - and is it a good idea?

According to Michael Fitzhugh blogging at Daily Finance, reinventing the Windows mobile software experience is crucial for Microsoft.

"Following the company's early success in creating a sophisticated mobile phone OS, its share of the smartphone OS market has slipped to just 18%."

That puts Microsoft miles behind BlackBerry and Apple, and with Google Android recently doubling its market share to 5.2 percent, this is dangerous territory, Fitzhugh.

According to Daily Finance: "The new Windows Phone 7 software is an effort to deliver a mobile experience that's 'modern and takes advantage of people's complex lives to deliver something that's unique and individual'."

Not only that, says DF, but: "Microsoft is also using the new OS as part of an effort to unify, to some degree, the hardware specifications for Windows phones, which have varied widely in the past, leaving some underpowered."

Windows Phone 7 Series: but is it any good?

According to Gizmodo, Windows Phone 7 Series certainly is.

In a post entitled 'Microsoft Has Out-Apple Apple', Jesus Diaz said: "I'm sorry, Cupertino, but Microsoft has nailed it. Windows Phone 7 feels like an iPhone from the future. The UI has the simplicity and elegance of Apple's industrial design, while the iPhone's UI still feels like a colorized Palm Pilot."


"Instead of becoming another me-too cellphone, like Android and the rest, the Windows Phone 7 team came up their own vision of what the cellphone should be. In the process, they have created a beautiful user interface in which the data is at the center of user interaction. Not the apps-specific functions-but the information itself. At some points, in fact, it feels like the information is the interface itself.

"Out of the box, this information is organized into areas called hubs, which follow the user's areas of interest. Accessible through live tiles in the home screen, the Me (the user), people, pictures and video, music, and games-plus the omnipresent search-hubs give views into several data sources, connecting and presenting them into an interweaved panoramic stream. These hubs dig heavily into many databases, both locally and into the cloud."

Gadget blog Engadget is similarly impressed.

"The phone operating system does away with pretty much every scrap of previous mobile efforts from Microsoft, from the look and feel down to the underlying code - everything is brand new.

"7 Series has rebuilt Windows Mobile from the ground up, featuring a completely altered home screen and user interface experience, robust Xbox LIVE and Zune integration, and vastly new and improved social networking tools."

"Gone is the familiar Start screen, now replaced with "tiles" which scroll vertically and can be customized as quick launches, links to contacts, or self contained widgets. The look of the OS has also been radically upended, mirroring the Zune HD experience closely, replete with that large, iconic text for menus, and content transitions which elegantly (and dimensionally) slide a user into and out of different views."

Windows Phone 7 Series: a good start

So it's earlier than early days, but the portents look good. Microsoft has made a radical departure in the mobile space, and key industry bloggers are impressed. Watch this space.

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