Wednesday 23 May 2018

Mobile World Congress: Microsoft unveils Windows Phone to rival iPhone

Microsoft has laid down a gauntlet to Apple with the launch of its new mobile phone operating system

Claudine Beaumont at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

Microsoft has unveiled a new version of its mobile phone operating system that it hopes will allow it to replicate its desktop dominance on the next generation of smartphones.

Windows Phone 7 is a complete departure from previous Windows Mobile operating systems, focusing more closely on social-networking capabilities, real-time information, and organising contacts and data in to single “hubs” to make it easier to keep in touch.

“I’m proud to introduce Windows Phone 7 Series, the next generation of Windows Phones,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“In a crowded market, filled with phones that look the same and do the same things, I challenged the team to deliver a different kind of mobile experience."

"Windows Phone 7 marks a turning point toward phones that truly relfect the speed of people’s lives and their need to connect to other people and all kinds of seamless experiences.”

Joe Belfiore, vice president of Windows Phone, said it was time to stop thinking about mobile phones like PCs.

“A phone is not a PC, it’s a smaller, more intimate device,” he said. “Too many phones are made to look like PCs. We wanted to come up with a user design that was different, that moved beyond the metaphor of the PC.”

Windows Phone devices will feature three buttons - Start, Search and Back buttons - and be built around six different “hubs”, based on the services that people use most, accessed through the Live Tiles home screen.

These include the People hub, which allows one-click interaction with people in a user’s contact book, as well as a live stream of Twitter and Facebook updates from friends.

The Pictures hub pulls together recently synchronised or recently taken photos, and the Games hub brings Xbox Live games to a mobile device for the first time.

Microsoft also placed an emphasis on Windows Phones as a business tool as well as personal device. Users can access and edit Microsoft Office documents on the device.

“We wanted to support the theme of work life and home life coming together in an elegant way,” said Belfiore.

Steve Ballmer emphasised how different the 7 Series range of phones would be from previous Windows devices, as well as competitors.

“I hope you’ll agree that this clearly differentiates from our past, and from other phones out there,” he said.

Microsoft used the launch of Windows Phone as a rare opportunity to poke fun at rival Apple, which has shaken up the mobile space with its iPhone.

Windows Phone, said an advert, doesn’t make users “go in and out of apps” - a clear dig at the iPhone, which has been criticised for its inability to multi-task.

Microsoft said that Windows Phone 7 Series devices would be available at the end of the year from a variety of handset makers, including Samsung, LG and HTC.

“This is a different kind of phone,” said Belfiore.

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