Forget everything that you knew about Windows mobile. The Operating System (OS) concept is now just plain old history. Enter Windows 7 Phone Series. Agreed Microsoft has one of the worst naming instincts, but that apart this new concept brings innovation. Microsoft has designed this groundbreaking OS from scratch, with the old Windows Mobile being given a pink slip. Just as Windows 7 has provided the cravings of almost every PC user, its phone counterpart promises to do the same in the phone segment.

This interface is different as it does not have any glossy icons arranged in a cramped up screen. The Windows 7 User interface (UI), adopts a totally new strategy. The main screen consists of completely flat squares referred to as hubs. There is no unnecessary visual flair and colors are kept to a bare minimum. The whole theme actually feels very crisp and simple. The text too is beautiful, with its large font. The whole design seems to give a very modern and no nonsense effect. The flipping through menus and scrolling is breezy. The UI theme has been tried in the Zune HD but now it has been perfected. Microsoft sure seems to have its aesthetic compass pointed in the right direction.

The usability of the phone is centered on the following hubs: People; Me; Games; Pictures; Music and Video; Marketplace and Office. The hubs are not just standalone applications. They are linked together. For instance, the hub People is not simply contacts but also the place for social networking. The People hub also features real time updates of all your contacts from their various social networking accounts. You can also make a tile of your friend’s profile on the start screen with the phone doing the rest to keep you updated real time.

Next comes the Me hub. In this hub you can update your status in all your accounts like Facebook or Windows Live in one place (Twitter support is missing though). This all in one solution does make this phone very appealing for social networking.

The Music and Videos hub has nothing much new to be talked about. Microsoft has gone the Apple way and has done what Apple did with iPod. The Music and Videos hub is just the Zune interface on a phone.

Apart from the other hubs, the Pictures hub is a new feature. Not only does it store the normal pictures taken on camera or synced with a PC but also pulls down pictures from social networking sites. Real time updates ensure that you see your friends’ latest photos.

The Gaming hub though has generated a lot of buzz. With its integration into your Xbox Live account you can play games to gain achievement points. Well, it’s not exactly a portable Xbox but there are plenty of mobile versions of the big games which can actually catch the eye of a gamer. Microsoft has definitely scored over others in this challenge.

Internet Explorer is present as a usual browser. It’s not exactly snappy but then, it does its job pretty good. The e-mail client is awesome though. There has been a lot of emphasis on readability. Text is simply huge. Exchange support is provided as well.

The Office hub will keep the business minded happy as it supports OTA syncing. And finally we come to the dedicated search hub-Bing. The search is integrated into every possible feature of the phone. Pressing the search button on the start page shows the live search but doing that inside the People hub triggers a contact search. And there is Bing maps too.

As far as the hardware is concerned, gone are the days when anyone could bundle up Windows Mobile with their barely performing phones. This time Microsoft is dictating terms.

Some of the specifications of Windows 7 mobile are as follows:

  • A sensitive capacitive touch screen with at least four points of touch
  • GPS
  • Compass
  • Accelerometer
  • 5MP camera with flash
  • 256MB memory, with 8GB flash storage
  • DirectX 9 acceleration
  • ARMv7 Cortex/Scorpion processor.

Microsoft is definitely late into the phone market by a long margin but its history shows that isn’t going to be much of a hindrance. Windows Phone 7,surely has the potential to beat Apple and Google in the phone race. This has turned the phone industry to a tripartite struggle with the three biggest names of desktop computing in it.