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lunes, 15 de febrero de 2010

Gadget Lab Hardware News and Reviews Hands-On With Windows 7 Phone Series

The awkward name might be pure old-school Microsoft, but the new Windows 7 Phone Series is more Xbox and Zune than Windows Mobile 6.5. The design team was proportionally one of the biggest for any Microsoft product, and it shows.

The handset I tried is a no-name developer tool, a plain plastic box in which the camera doesn’t line up with the hole in the case, and the capacitive touchscreen doesn’t even meet Microsoft’s own minimum hardware specs for a Windows 7 Phones Series mobile phone. But despite this, the OS itself seems both polished and simple. The UI is very flat, almost all simple, sharp squares and plain text. In fact, it feels like you are looking at the large-print accessibility version.

But despite this simplicity it’s a lot of fun to use. The “hubs” into which content is organized by type are an intuitive way to work, but most of what you do every day can be done without leaving the home screen. IPhone users who live in three or four apps and constantly switch between them for updates from Twitter, e-mail and RSS will be jealous of the dynamic front page. Choose what apps, people, podcasts or almost anything you want on the main screen and they update in real time, with new information swimming sweetly onto the icons. It’s almost like a moving photo in Harry Potter, only less hokey and far more useful.

The phone I tested felt sparse, mostly due to a lack of content, but there was enough on show to appreciate how the hubs work. Hit up a contact in the People hub and you have everything relevant, from their contact details (tap to call) to their Facebook or Twitter status. It’s surprisingly natural.

This is an early iteration, and I couldn’t get any more news from Microsoft about future software. It seems, though, that this hub framework will be the way any other apps will fit into the ecosystem. Hardware, too, will change, and Steve Ballmer mentioned that the software will come on all shapes and sizes of handset.

What surprised me most was that I was expecting yet another iPhone clone. And while the Windows 7 Phone isn’t the huge game changer that the iPhone was upon its debut, it is different enough to embarrass pretty much everyone else except Apple.

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