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TECH NEWS: Real Microsoft threat for iPhone

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 will appear in phones later this year, but can it really challenge the might of the iPhone?

On first impressions, yes. The 7 is the most consistently impressive handset we've seen in years.

Features include: a multi-touch screen, social-networking abilities, Xbox Live integration and Zune enabled. The key feature though is its series of hubs -- me, people, pictures, video, music, search and games -- which give views into several data sources.

The face of Phone 7 is an oversized set of bright, flat squares, with ever-changing pictures that produce a kind of cutting-edge crispness. Text is big, and beautiful.

The result is a feat no phone has performed before. It makes the iPhone's interface feel . . . old.