Windows Phone 7
|Company / developer||Microsoft Corporation|
|Working state||Current, support ends on September 9, 2014|
|Latest stable release||Windows Phone 7.8 (Build 7.10.8862.144) / March 15, 2013|
|Kernel type||Monolithic (CE-based)|
|License||Commercial proprietary software|
|Succeeded by||Windows Phone 8|
Windows Phone 7 was the first and previous release of the Windows Phone mobile client operating system, released worldwide on October 21, 2010, and in the United States on November 8, 2010. An update to the OS codenamed Mango (also referred to as Windows Phone 7.5) was released in May 2011. In January 2013, Windows Phone 7.8 was released. It added a few features backported from Windows Phone 8, such as a more customizable start screen. It was succeeded by Windows Phone 8, which was released on October 29, 2012.
Development history 
Microsoft officially unveiled the new operating system, Windows Phone 7 Series, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 15, 2010, and revealed additional details at MIX 2010 on March 15, 2010. The final SDK was made available on September 16, 2010. HP later decided not to build devices for Windows Phone, citing that it wanted to focus on devices for its newly purchased webOS. As its original name was criticized for being too complex and "wordy", the name of the operating system was officially shortened to just Windows Phone 7 on April 2, 2010.
On October 11, 2010, Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer announced the 10 launch devices for Windows Phone 7, made by HTC, Dell, Samsung, and LG, with sales beginning on October 21, 2010 in Europe and Australia and November 8, 2010 in the United States. The devices were made available on 60 carriers in 30 countries, with additional devices to be launched in 2011. Upon the release of Windows Phone 7's "Mango" revision, additional manufacturers became partners, including Acer, Fujitsu, and ZTE.
Windows Phone initially supported twenty-five languages, with applications being available through Windows Phone Store in 35 countries and regions. Support for additional languages and regions were subsequently brought through both the Mango and Tango updates to the OS respectively.
Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) 
At the 2011 Mobile World Congress, Steve Ballmer announced a major update to Windows Phone 7 due toward the end of the year, Windows Phone 7.5, codenamed Mango. The new OS would address many of the platform's shortcomings, including a mobile version of Internet Explorer 9 that supports the same web standards and graphical capability as the desktop version, multi-tasking of third-party apps, Twitter integration for the People Hub, and Windows Live SkyDrive access.
Tango update 
A minor update released in 2012 known as "Tango", along with other bug fixes, would also lower the hardware requirements to allow for devices with 800 MHz CPUs and 256 MB of RAM to run Windows Phone. Certain resource-intensive features are also disabled on these phones, and the Windows Phone Store will also prevent the installation of apps that are considered to be too intensive for use on weaker hardware. The lower requirements were adopted in order to allow the development of lower-cost devices, particularly to target emerging markets such as China.
Windows Phone 7.8 
Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7.8 alongside Windows Phone 8 and began pushing the update to devices in January 2013. It added some features from the Windows NT based Windows Phone 8, backported to Windows Phone 7. These features included the updated start screen that allowed users to resize live tiles, additional theme colors, and an update to the lock screen that would optionally display the daily Bing homepage picture automatically.
Windows Phone 7.8 is made available to devices where the manufacturers (such as Dell and LG) and carriers (such as T-Mobile USA ) may not be interested in upgrading the users of their Windows Phone 7 devices. Microsoft has provided the support to such devices through a worldwide Windows Phone 7.8 release.
User interface 
Windows Phone 7 featured a new user interface, based upon Microsoft's Windows Phone design system, codenamed and commonly referred to as Metro. The home screen, called the "Start screen", is made up of "Live Tiles", which have been the inspiration for the Windows 8 live tiles. Tiles are links to applications, features, functions and individual items (such as contacts, web pages, applications or media items). Users can add, rearrange, or remove tiles. Tiles are dynamic and update in real time – for example, the tile for an email account would display the number of unread messages or a tile could display a live update of the weather.
Several features of Windows Phone are organized into "hubs", which combine local and online content via Windows Phone's integration with popular social networks such as Facebook, Windows Live, and Twitter. For example, the Pictures hub shows photos captured with the device's camera and the user's Facebook photo albums, and the People hub shows contacts aggregated from multiple sources including Windows Live, Facebook, and Gmail. From the Hub, users can directly comment and 'like' on social network updates. The other built-in hubs are Xbox Music and Video, Xbox Live Games, Windows Phone Store, and Microsoft Office.
Windows Phone uses multi-touch technology. The default Windows Phone user interface has a dark theme that prolongs battery life on OLED screens as fully black pixels don't emit light. The user may choose a light theme instead, and can also choose from several accent colors. User interface elements such as tiles are shown in the user's chosen accent color. Third-party applications can be automatically themed with these colors.
Text input 
Users input text by using an on-screen virtual keyboard, which has a dedicated key for inserting emoticons, and features spell checking and word prediction. App developers (both inhouse and ISV) may specify different versions of the virtual keyboard in order to limit users to certain character sets, such as numeric characters alone. Users may change a word after it has been typed by tapping the word, which will invoke a list of similar words. Pressing and holding certain keys will reveal similar characters. The keys are somewhat larger and spaced farther apart when in landscape mode. Phones may also be made with a hardware keyboard for text input.
Windows Phone 7.5 supports "threads", a system for allowing a conversation with a person to be held through multiple platforms (such as Windows Live Messenger, Facebook messaging, or SMS within a single thread, dynamically switching between services depending on availability.
Web browser 
Internet Explorer on Windows Phone allows the user to maintain a list of favorite web pages and tiles linking to web pages on the Start screen. The browser supports up to 6 tabs, which can all load in parallel. Other features include multi-touch gestures, a streamlined UI, smooth zoom in/out animations, the ability to save pictures that are on web pages, share web pages via email, and support for inline search which allows the user to search for a word or phrase in a web page by typing it. Microsoft has announced plans to regularly update the Windows Phone web browser and its layout engine independently from the Windows Phone Update system.
In a demo, Microsoft said that users will be able to stream YouTube videos from the browser. Clicking on a video from the mobile YouTube website will launch the video in a standalone app and will also add the YouTube video to the Music + Video Hub.
Contacts are organized via the "People hub". Contacts can be manually entered into contacts or imported from Facebook, Windows Live Contacts, Twitter, LinkedIn and Gmail. Contacts may be manually imported from Outlook using Windows Live Contacts or Gmail. A "What's New" section show news feed and a "Pictures" section show pictures from those social networks made by the contacts. A "Me" section show the phone user's own social networks status and wall, allow the user to update his status, and check into Bing and Facebook Places. Contacts can be added to the home screen by pinning them to the start. The contact's "Live Tile" displays his social network status and profile picture on the homescreen and the contact's hub displays his Facebook wall as well as all of the rest of his contact information and information from his other social networks.
If a contact has information stored on multiple networks, users can link the two separate contact accounts, allowing the information to be viewed and accessed from a single card. As of Windows Phone 7.5, contacts can also be sorted into "Groups". Here, information from each of the contacts is combined into a single page which can be accessed directly from the Hub or pinned to the Start screen.
Windows Phone supports Hotmail, Exchange, Yahoo! Mail, and Gmail natively and supports many other services via the POP and IMAP protocols. For the native account types, contacts and calendars may be synced as well. Users can also search through their email by searching in the subject, body, senders, and receivers. Emails are shown in threading view and multiple email inboxes can be combined or kept separate.
The "Music + Videos hub" allows the user to access music, videos, and podcasts stored on the device, and links directly to the "Xbox Music Store" to buy music, or rent with the Xbox Music Pass subscription service. When browsing the music by a particular artist, users are able to view artist biographies and photos, provided by the Xbox Music. This hub integrates with many other apps that provide video and music services, including, but not limited to, iHeartRadio, YouTube, and Vevo. This hub also includes Smart DJ which compiles a playlist of songs stored on the phone similar to the song or artist selected. Purchased movies and other videos can be played through Xbox Video, the "Xbox Video Store" is not yet compatible on Windows Phone to directly buy or stream video content from your device.
The "Pictures hub" displays the user's Facebook and SkyDrive photo albums, as well as photos taken with the phone's built-in camera. Users can also upload photos to social networks, comment on others photos, and tag photos on social networks directly from the Pictures hub. Multi-touch gestures permit zooming in and out of photos.
Media support 
According to Brandon Miniman's test review for pocketnow.com, he stated "if Zune can play it, your Windows Phone 7 device can play it" – this refers to the supported playback of files. The audio file formats supported include WAV, MP3, WMA, AMR, AAC/MP4/M4A/M4B and 3GP/3G2 as standards. The video file formats supported include WMV, AVI, MP4/M4V, 3GP/3G2 and MOV (QuickTime) standards. These supported audio and video formats would be dependent on the codecs contained inside them. It has also been previously reported that the DivX and Xvid codecs within AVI are also playable on the system. Unlike the previous Windows Mobile operating system, there are currently no third-party applications for handling other video formats. The image file formats that are supported include JPG/JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIF and Bitmap (BMP).
Custom ringtones were added with Mango. Ringtones must be under 1MB, less than 40 seconds long and the genre marked as Ringtone to appear on the phone, and are either created on the computer or downloaded through apps. Custom ringtones cannot be used for text messages, IMs or emails.
The "Games hub" provides access to games on a phone along with Xbox Live functionality, including the ability for a user to interact with their avatar, view and edit their profile, see their achievements and view leaderboards, and send messages to friends on Xbox Live. The Games hub also features an area for managing invitations and turn notifications in turn-based multiplayer games.
Microsoft's hardware requirements stipulate that every Windows Phone must have a dedicated Search button on the front of the device that performs different actions. Pressing the search button while an application is open allows users to search within applications that take advantage of this feature; for example, pressing Search in the People hub lets users search their contact list for specific people. This has been changed in Windows Phone 7.5 however – as the search button is reserved for Bing – so applications that previously used this feature (such as the Marketplace) now include soft search buttons.
Windows Phone also has a voice recognition function, powered by TellMe, which allows the user to perform a Bing search, call contacts or launch applications by speaking. This can be activated by pressing and holding the phone's Start button.
Bing is the default search engine on Windows Phone handsets due to its deep integration of functions into the OS (which also include the utilization of its map service for location-based searches and queries). However, Microsoft has stated that other search engine applications can be used.
Aside from location-based searches, Bing Maps also provide turn-by-turn navigation service to Windows Phone user and Local Scout shows interest points such as attractions and restaurants in the nearby area.
Bing Audio allows the user to match a song with its name and Bing Vision allows the user to match barcodes and tags with the product online.
Office suite 
The "Office hub" organizes all Microsoft Office apps and documents. Microsoft Office Mobile provides interoperability between Windows Phone and the desktop version of Microsoft Office. Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, PowerPoint Mobile, OneNote Mobile, and SharePoint Workspace Mobile allow most Microsoft Office file formats to be viewed and edited directly on a Windows Phone device.
Microsoft Office files from SkyDrive and Office 365, as well as files stored locally on the phone, can be accessed through the Office Hub. Office files are sorted by tiles: Word documents (blue tile), Excel spreadsheets (green tile), PowerPoint presentations (red tile), and OneNote documents (purple tile).
In Windows Phone 7, multitasking is limited to bundled apps. Starting with Windows Phone 7.5, a card-based task switcher can be accessed by pressing and holding the back button. The screenshot of last five open app are shown as cards. Apps can be kept running even when out of view through "Live Agents".
Zune Software manages the contents on Windows Phone 7 devices and Windows Phone 7 can wirelessly sync with Zune Software. In addition to accessing on the Windows Phone devices, Zune software can also access the Zune Marketplace to purchase music, videos, and all apps for Windows Phone. While music and videos are both stored locally on the PC and on the phone, apps are only stored on the phone even if purchased from the Zune Software. Zune Software can also be used to update all Windows Phone devices. Although Zune Software is unavailable on Mac OS X operating system, Microsoft has released Windows Phone Connector which allow Windows Phone devices to sync with iTunes for Mac and iPhoto.
Windows Phone 7 does not support usual USB sync with Microsoft Outlook's Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notes as opposed to older versions of Windows Mobile with Desktop ActiveSync. Syncing Contacts and Appointments is done via a cloud-based service (Windows Live, Google, or Exchange Server) only. Microsoft provides no way to sync this personal information directly from a computer to a Windows Phone and back. Third party software, such as Akruto Sync is required in order to sync personal information directly, without relying on cloud-based services. A petition to Microsoft was filed to reinstate USB sync for Outlook.
To provide a more consistent experience between devices, Windows Phone 7 devices are required to meet a certain set of hardware requirements, which Andy Lees, Microsoft's senior vice president of mobile communications business, described as being "tough, but fair." All Windows Phone devices, at minimum, must include the following:
|Minimum Windows Phone 7 device requirements|
|Capacitive, 4-point multi-touch screen with WVGA (480x800) resolution|
|ARM v7 "Cortex/Scorpion" – Snapdragon QSD8X50, MSM7X30, and MSM8X55|
|DirectX9 rendering-capable GPU|
|256MB of RAM (as of Tango) with at least 4GB of Flash memory|
|Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and Assisted GPS|
|FM radio tuner|
|Six (6) dedicated hardware buttons – back, Start, search, 2-stage camera, power/sleep and volume buttons|
|Optional hardware: Front-facing camera, compass and gyroscope|
Previously, Windows Phone 7 devices were required to have 512 MB of RAM. As of the "Tango" update, the requirements were revised to allow for chipsets with slower processors, and for devices to have a minimum of 256 MB of RAM. Certain features of the operating system, and the ability to install certain resource-intensive apps are disabled on Windows Phone devices with under 512 MB of RAM.
What Engadget and Gizmodo felt were notable omissions in a modern smartphone OS have largely been addressed in the Mango update. ZDNet praised the OS's virtual keyboard and noted the excellent touch precision as well as powerful auto-correct and revision software. The touch responsiveness of the OS has also been universally praised by all three sites with reviewers noting the smoothness of scrolling and gestures like pinch to zoom in web browsing. PCWorld ran an article called "Windows Phone 7: Microsoft's Disaster" citing what they call a "lack of security, shockingly bad Office apps, an interface not backed up under the hood and abandonment of the full Microsoft customer base."
The reception to the "Metro" UI (also called Modern-Style UI) and overall interface of the OS has also been highly praised for its style, with ZDNet noting its originality and fresh clean look. Engadget and ZDNet applauded the integration of Facebook into the People Hub as well as other built-in capabilities, such as Windows Live, etc.
Windows Phone 7 was presented with a total of three awards at the 2011 International Design Excellence Awards, voted by an independent jury at an event co-sponsored by Microsoft, among others; Gold in Interactive Product Experience, Silver in Research and Bronze in the Design Strategy.
"The Windows Phone 7 was built around the idea that the end user is king. The design team began by defining and understanding the people who would use this phone. It was convinced that there could be a better user experience for a phone, one that revolves more around who the users are rather than what they do. The Windows Phone 7 lets users quickly get in, get out and back to their lives."
At the awards ceremony, Windows Phone 7 was given "the noteworthy People's Choice Award, an award handed to the favorite IDEA 2011 gold award winner."
Microsoft will end support for Windows Phone 7 on September 9, 2014.
- Microsoft to support Windows Phone 7 and 8 until 2014 | Windows Phone Central
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- Nokia Windows Phone site
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