Feeds

Hands on with Windows Phone 7

More a re-skin than a re-invention

Security for virtualized datacentres

Tiles'n'hubs = icons'n'apps

Apps can be added to the Start screen, moved around within it or dropped from the list. An right-facing arrow on the right of the Start screen takes you to a list of apps installed on the smartphone. Press and hold any one to get a pop-up menu from which you can uninstall third-party apps, or pin them to the Start menu. Microsoft apps can't be deleted, but I was able to remove one of the Orange-installed tools.

Click and hold an app in Start and you can then remove it from the screen or move it. It works like iOS but without the 'wobble'.

Microsoft WinPho 7

Not just for consumers: Office and Exchange are well supported

The fact is, of course, that WinPho 7's tiles are app icons, just ones that can operate not merely as app identifier but as one of the app's data display mechanisms. The hubs are apps with clever, big, widescreen UIs, but apps nonetheless. If an app doesn't present information in its tile, you're just as far away from the data as you are with an iOS or Android program.

The question is, do punters want a variety of similar but different UIs that reflect the data or services they are viewing, or do they want to keep apps separate? iOS' fast app load times - improved further with iOS 4's multitasking - mean that you're actually never that far from the data and services that matter to you.

WinPho 7 claims to bring these closer to you, but you can still be a tap and a swipe or two away. Hubs may cleverly personalise themselves for you - primarily by using your own snaps as wallpaper - but the OS' animated graphics are no less gimmicky for all that. You still need to go into the Settings zone to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Messages appear as IM-style conversations. Big tiles mean you only get eight per screen, so you'll be swiping down to other 'pages' as much as you do on the iPhone or an Android device - you just go up and down instead of side to side.

So WinPho 7 doesn't reinvent the smartphone OS so much as re-skin it.

Microsoft WinPho 7

An app with a big, wide UI that's larger than the phone's screen - but still an app

I'm sure both Android and iOS will learn from the WinPho 7 - iOS desperately needs a better notifications system, for example - but there's nothing here that will have Google or Apple worrying. But if they think Microsoft would never be able to rise above Windows Mobile 6, they're wrong.

WinPho 7 comes into a crowded market, and it's certainly not going to dominate. But it might just help prevent one of the other operating systems gaining the foothold that Microsoft's other OS, Windows, gained in the personal computing space. And if it does so, that's all to the good, I think.

The irony that that might be a Microsoft product that blocked a monopoly will be lost on no one. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Apple iPhone 6: Missing sapphire glass screen FAIL explained
They just cannae do it in time, says analyst
Slap my Imp up: Bullfrog's Dungeon Keeper
Monsters need to earn a living too
Oh noes, fanbois! iPhone 6 Plus shipments 'DELAYED' in the UK
Is EMBIGGENED Apple mobile REALLY that popular?
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
The Apple Watch and CROTCH RUBBING. How are they related?
Plus: 'NostrilTime' wristjob vid action
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.