Last October, the world was alight with the news that Windows 7 was out. Sure, it was likely to have problems, and any geek worth his glasses prescription will tell you that it is still based on the Vista kernel, but nobody cared. Burger King was so excited it made this…

Windows 7 Wopper

It was big in Japan

This new version of Windows Mobile adds any Windows Mobile 7 Series – WinMo 7 – phone the last of the long list of “iPhone Killers”. Unlike most iPhone killers, this isn’t an old OS with a pretty new skin. It is an entirely new operating system. This makes WinMo 7 not so much an alternative to an iPhone, but makes a case to be its upgrade.

In the past, Windows Mobile had been responsible for ruining phones. It was sloppy, exceptionally non-user friendly and was usually coupled with a stylus, which meant when the iPhone came out, we were all blown away by its interface. Luckily, Windows has made it clear from the bat that this isn’t a downgraded version of Windows, like the old versions of WinMo. Instead, Windows Mobile 7 Series a brand spanking new opperating system, desiged to show the world just what Microsoft can do when they try. We have to remember that this is Microsoft after all. The last entity to have the same amount of resources at its disposal, only created two things, Adam and Eve.

Instead of the 5 by 4 menu grid of the iPhone, Microsoft has gone with the principle of that bigger is better, so screens are outlayed with a 4 by 2 coulomb of “large” thumbnails which is intended to grant faster access to the most used features on a smartphone, such as social media, music, messaging and (of course) the phone. This is a pleasant change to the iPhone’s efficient, yet slightly cluttered navigation. This, coupled with the large, touch friendly text and new colourfull themes, make the interface the most innovative interface since the iPhone came out in 2007. A strong focus has been to make the interface very visualaly apealing. Unlike the iPhone and Android, Text does not appear on a blank background. There is a picture, artfully placed. Asthetically then Winmo 7 kicks the competitions teeth in.

Of course, the iPhone has a built in iPod, which I prefer to a built in Zune, I am willing to ignore this fact in favour of WinMo 7’s amazing home screen. While the iPhone displays random applications, the majority of which are never used, WinMo 7 will show live, real-time data seamlessly integrated “Live Tiles” on the Start screen, which you can totally customize, and are updated constantly with fresh content, like weather, or if you’ve pinned a person to your Start screen, their latest status updates and photos from Facebook, Windows Live, Twitter and MySpace.

Instead of a decentralized collection of apps, WinMo 7 will display centres that focus on different aspects of the phones ability. These hubs are broken into People, Pictures, Games, Music + Video, Marketplace, and Office which are kind of like applications themselves, but instead allow for multi-purpose functionality, which is a large improvement over the iPhone’s one task at a time. For example, the People hub stores contacts, emails, your Facebook and Twitter feeds.Contacts will also be displayed with their status updates, tagged photos and tweets, so stalking someone has never be easier.
WinMo 7 Contacts Hub

Of course, hardly anyone uses solely the built in software that comes with the phone, so Microsoft has worked hard to ensure that their apps store will be able to compete with the fruit-centred rival’s. WinMo7’s version, Marketplace, will initially lag behind in terms of the number of apps available compaired to the iTunes AppStore. Knowing this, Microsoft has promised a tier of specifically designed games, and if Office is counted as a super-app, then Marketplace might be the only app store available with productivity boosters, instead of lightsabers.

Xbox live has also been integrated into the phone, but this anticlimactic. While we were all ready to do battle with the third reich on your phone, Microsoft has not relased any information as to which titles will be expanded to the mobile market, and so far the most impressive title spoken about seems to be Worms. Although it has been said on good authority that the titles will be available in a matter of time, for now Xbox Live leaves us a bit disappointed.
Microsoft also lose the battle when it comes to its built in capabilities as Bing and Bing Maps are built into the phone as the default search and maps services. They’re nice, smartly contextual, and very location-oriented. Bing’s also used for universal search on the phone, after honestly trying Bing for three searches, the iPhone’s Google and Google Maps remain the clear winners. This being said there is rumors that with iPhone OS v4, Apple will make the switch from Google to Bing.
WinMo 7 Games Hub

Obiously there will be full support for Microsoft Exchange, which will make it a solid bet for corporates and any company using Google Apps. WinMo 7 will also sync seamlessly with Windows Vista and Windows 7 through the Microsoft Sync Center.

It does make this ground up with its browser. Unfortunately it is Internet Explorer, and it will be slower then Safari on the iPhone. And unfortunately, tabbed mobile browsing seems to still be a but a dream, but the browser does allow you to pin pages to the start screen, which makes it so much more usable and less frustrating than Safari.

Frankly, Windows Mobile 7 Series could very well be as successful as its big brother Windows 7. Though the competitors all have great products. Lets hope Microsoft have delivered simply a better product which might, for the first time, make Apple aware of something to which it has been oblivious. The recession.

Official Windows Mobile 7 Series Website

Arieh Esra
Assistant Editor