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A quick scroll through Windows Phone 7

Microsoft gave ZDNet UK a hands-on demonstration of Windows Phone 7, the chief mobile operating system successor to Windows Mobile
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1 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

On Tuesday, Microsoft gave ZDNet UK a hands-on demonstration of its Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system.

One of the successors to Windows Mobile 6.5 — Microsoft's enterprise customers will be served by the upcoming Windows Embedded Handheld — Windows Phone 7 marks a clean break with the past. The platform requires entirely new applications and is based on technologies including Silverlight and XNA.

Microsoft senior product manager Greg Sullivan, who gave the demonstration, told ZDNet UK that the operating system on show was close to complete, although some services "haven't really lit up yet", meaning they are not yet working. These include the marketplace and the games hub, both of which are currently unpopulated with content.

Otherwise, Sullivan noted, the OS will require only "general tweaking and polish throughout the system" before it launches "in the market in a meaningful way this fall for the holiday buying season".

The demonstration was given on a Samsung Taylor, a prototype device of the sort that Microsoft is currently sending out to developers. The handset, which won't ship to the retail market, conforms to Microsoft's minimum specifications for a Windows Phone 7 phone, such as a gigahertz processor and 8GB of internal flash memory.

Manufacturers who have confirmed they will sell Windows Phone 7 phones at launch include HTC, Samsung, Dell and Asus. The launch regions have not been announced yet, although some hints can be gleaned from the fact that the OS will initially be available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.

This shot shows the Windows Phone 7 homescreen, which is based on tiles. Some represent applications, while others represent hubs — groups of applications in categories such as multimedia or gaming.

"We don't have faux three dimensionality or chrome — it's about the content," Sullivan said.

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2 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

This is what a contact entry looks like on Windows Phone 7.

As with many Android phone skins these days, Windows Phone 7 draws in contact details from a variety of sources, such as Outlook and Facebook, for its People hub.

The OS also integrates some of those services' functionality in the People hub. For example, the hub will not only show that contact's latest Facebook photos, but also let the user comment on those photos from within the hub.

According to Sullivan, standalone Facebook apps are under development that will allow the user to separate their social networking contact information from the phone's native contact functionality.

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3 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

This shot shows how the user initially searches for contacts on the Windows Phone 7 phone. Once the first letter has been selected, a scrollable list of matching contacts appears.

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4 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

This is the Windows Phone 7 Bing app, which provides random facts about searched-for terms.

As can be seen in the picture, voice search is integrated into Windows Phone 7.

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5 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

This is how an Outlook email inbox looks on Windows Phone 7.

Emails can be viewed with full HTML content, with pinch-to-zoom enabled. On the other hand, there is no threaded email view, and the font size for the inbox view is not customisable, meaning only five or six emails can be seen at any given time.

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6 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

This shot shows the day view in the Windows Phone 7 calendar app.

The app can take in appointments from Windows Live Calendar and Google Calendar, with those appointments showing up in different colours to denote their source. There is also a handy 'I'm late' button, which makes it possible to quickly alert the convener of a meeting, or all its attendees, of the user's tardiness.

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7 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

This is one of the screens in the Office hub on Windows Phone 7.

It shows sample documents for the operating system's Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps, all of which allow some degree of editing. PowerPoint only allows editing of text — Sullivan said it was unlikely people would want to manipulate graphics on their handsets.

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8 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

This shows commenting taking place in the Word app.

The user can select text, then comment on it. However, they cannot cut and paste text — a function that would involve a similar method of selection.

Sullivan said cut-and-paste had been left out of Windows Phone 7 because people don't use that feature. He claimed to have never used it himself on a handset outside of Windows Mobile demonstrations.

He added, however, that the feature was "something we are looking at" for future releases of Windows Phone.

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9 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

This is how an Excel spreadsheet looks in Windows Phone 7.

As with all the office apps, they allow behind-the-firewall collaboration through the platform's SharePoint integration.

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10 of 10 David Meyer/ZDNet

This is the Marketplace app store, currently populated only by test applications issued by Microsoft for developer use.

According to Sullivan, Microsoft has seen more than 200,000 downloads of its developer toolkit for Windows Phone 7.

"We are working with all the top [independent software vendors] to enable apps," he said. "We expect to have broad coverage of the key scenarios people care about — such as games, productivity and social networking — and will continue to scale up."

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