Feeds

Hands on with Windows Phone 7

More a re-skin than a re-invention

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport
Breaches screening rules cos Apple SCREEN ROOLZ, ok?
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
The British Museum plonks digital bricks on world of Minecraft
Institution confirms it's cool with joining the blocky universe
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.