updated 10:20 am EST, Mon February 15, 2010
Coverage of new Microsoft phone OS at MWC
Microsoft held a press conference at Mobile World Congress that will show off Windows Phone 7. Electronista provided live coverage of the Barcelona-based event as it happened. Updates are after the story jump and appear in reverse order in Eastern time.
10:20AM: How will makers be allowed to innovate? Andy Lees: many things are extensible. Live tiles are extensible, for example. Considers UI changes for the same thing "chaos" (read: no HTC Sense UI). Ballmer chimes in and says DOS had a similar problem where everyone was changing it, but Windows helped sort that out. Don't want people to re-plumb the same thing.
Flash? No, none out of the box. Ballmer adds there's "no objection" to Flash (again, another dig at Apple).
10:18AM: Will Microsoft ever reconsider charging a license fee? We consider our model simple. Vertically integrated rivals are fine (i.e. iPhone), but ours is "clear and direct." Our best interests and easy for HW makers and carriers to understand.
10:15AM: Ballmer back again. Building on all of Microsoft's concepts and bringing them together in the "right way." (Bing, Office, Xbox, Zune, Internet Explorer, more) He's "enthusiastic" about the new direction.
Three screens + cloud strategy comes live here. Hopes that 7 is the lucky number for Windows Phone just as it has been for Windows 7 on the desktop.
When will we have WP7 phones? These will ship by the holidays. Because we have to share this with developers, we want to set a milestone today rather than drip info out.
10:12AM: Orange on stage. Had the first Windows Mobile phone (Orange SPV). An opportunity to get many (75 percent?) on the mobile Internet. Not just about devices, but also services and support so that customers get a top-notch experience.
10:09AM: Carrier partners on launch: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon in the US; Telefonica, Telstra, Orange, SFR, Telecom Italia.
AT&T and Orange will be two of the closest partners. AT&T CMO David Christopher on stage. AT&T expects WP7 to be a "huge driver" of smartphone growth this year.
10:05AM: Andy Lees, Senior VP Mobile Communications Business is on stage. Insists that Microsoft will keep the "partner model" where it licenses the OS to others (note: this is partial falsehood given Project Pink and the Microsoft+Sharp phones coming soon).
Massive shift in smartphones: need to work together with partners to keep the scale up. Want the whole to be more than the sum of the parts.
Hardware partners: LG, Qualcomm, Garmin-ASUS, Toshiba, Sony Ericsson, HTC, HP, Dell, Samsung are all developing a common hardware platform with multi-touch, accelerometers. Microsoft does the drivers, UI and other elements. Will get phones to market faster.
10:00AM: Want to "raise the bar" with hardware manufacturers; want more consistency in the devices and experience. However, we do need innovation; diversity is still important.
Have to show the unique carrier experience, but still maintain that consistency. Want to support the billing and other things providers do.
Had to "step back" a year and a half ago to rethink the design approach.
9:56AM: Ballmer back on stage. Will still invest in Windows Mobile 6.5, but want to start a new generation. Microsoft wants to take more accountability for the end-user experience than it has before.
What's the minimum hardware requirement? How about consistent experiences? What we see is a baseline; more will come.
To talk more about the ecosystem and development at MIX next month.
9:52AM: Games hub: Xbox Live integration includes your avatar, game achievements, and similar games. Friends list will appear and again integrate.
Showing a brief promo video. Claims a "sea of sameness" and an emphasis on apps over the experience. Have to jump in and out, rarely working together. Clearly a dig at Apple.
9:47AM: Office hub: lets you see and edit content in a UI consistent with Office 2010. Includes Sharepoint collaboration in addition to docs.
Music+video hub: Of course, much more like the Zune hub (Belfiore worked on the Zune UI before coming to WP7). Note that you're not necessarily dependent on a computer.
Syncs with Zune software. App is exactly the same.
9:42AM: Pictures hub: again stressing the "a phone is not a PC angle."
Photos sync with a PC, online or from the camera. Very Zune-like photo browsing of albums and favorites. You can send photos directly to Facebook.
9:38AM: Talking integrated experiences now. Want certain places to be hubs. Phones are about communication, so WP7 focuses on people. Desktops normally focus on e-mail, Facebook, etc. as separate. It's okay to do that on the desktop, but on a phone it's unwieldy.
People hub shows recents and favorites first, then everyone, and yourself. Zune-like alphabet sorting; you can see what's new with anyone from their contact page, regardless of source, and message them directly.
9:34AM: Browser is based on desktop Internet Explorer. Also uses sub-pixel font precision -- a step beyond ClearType in Windows. Pinch to zoom works and shows much clearer text than usual.
E-mail: "just like" Outlook on the desktop, but with a Zune interface. Gets network data but has a local cache so you can work offline. Allows iPhone-like mass delete.
9:30AM: Showing maps on WP7: supports multi-touch pinch to zoom and a unique dynamic view that switches from plain map view to satellite as you get close. Contextual menu systems are all over the OS.
Search: hitting the Search button triggers a Bing search. Automatically looks for local results first and will show maps plus local results first. Once you pick a business, it'll show reviews and nearby shops as well.
9:24AM: Demo of the home screen: uses a tile-based interface that customizes itself automatically as well as manually. Adds Facebook profiles, apps, links, playlists. You can tap and hold to move and delete tiles.
Showing a prototype Windows Phone 7 phone.
Calendar is also very Zune-like with day view, agenda and single event detail view.
9:20AM: Showing a Windows Phone 7 UI trailer: looks EXACTLY like Zune UI writ large. Visual browsing of music, photos, contacts. "Smart design" that reacts to the user, not just separate apps. "Integrated experiences" that are destinations for common tasks.
Hardware and software work in unison: just 3 hardware buttons. Start (launcher), search, and back. All capacitive touchscreens.
9:15AM: Other smartphones are "just like PCs;" need to move to a metaphor in design beyond the PC. Saying this behind a background that shows icons for apps from other platforms, including BlackBerry and iPhone.
9:13AM: Steve Ballmer takes the stage. Cutting straight to the chase: Windows Phone 7 series. Joe Belfiore, VP Windows Phone showing it today.
Belfiore designed Windows XP UI, but says he's most excited for today.
9:05AM: Microsoft appears to be running late (though likely won't be as late as the hour-plus delay for Samsung's event on Sunday).