Microsoft Completely Rebooted Its Mobile Business Yesterday; Here's What You Missed

Steve Ballmer

If you celebrated Presidents Day away from the computer, you probably missed the big tech story: Microsoft completely revamped its mobile phone platform, and showed off a first look at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Here’s the quick rundown:

  • It’s called Windows Phone 7 Series
  • It’s a completely new user interface designed from scratch, with some hints from the newish Zune HD
  • It’s really, really simple and clean — totally the opposite of what you’re used to from Microsoft
  • Microsoft seems to have actually thought it was designing a mobile operating system this time, and not a hacked down version of Windows for PCs
  • It’s not an iPhone ripoff, but some iPhone features are present, like multi-touch controls, “pinch” zoom on maps and photos and Web pages, gesture motions to scroll, etc.
  • It’s centered around the idea of “hubs,” such as music/video, photos, people, etc., which plug into various apps, social networks, etc. For instance, the photos hub may be constantly updating with your friends’ latest Facebook photos, etc.
  • Phones won’t ship until around the holidays, which presents the problem that many could think this is vaporware, and gives Apple and Google time to shoot further past Microsoft
  • Handset makers like LG and Samsung are on board, as well as carriers like AT&T and Orange, plus Microsoft has talked to all four U.S. nationwide carriers — AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile — about carrying it
  • Microsoft obviously wants developers to play a role, but refused to tell me anything about a potential SDK, citing a presentation it’s going to make at its Mix conference in March
  • It won’t support Flash in version 1, though Steve Ballmer said Microsoft is not against the idea for future versions, an attempt to make Apple look bad
  • Current Windows Mobile 6.X apps and devices won’t work with the new OS, so sales should continue to tank

For some analysis about how Microsoft is now positioned in the market — as in, back alive — click here for our article, “Microsoft is Back in the Mobile Business.”

For Gizmodo analysis, click here for “Windows Phone 7 Series: Everything is Different Now.”

Click here for more photos of the software and from the event >

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