Windows Phone (abbreviated as WP) is a series of proprietary mobile operating systems developed by Microsoft. It is the successor to Windows Mobile, although it is incompatible with the earlier platform. Unlike its predecessor, it is primarily aimed at the consumer market rather than the enterprise market.
With Windows Phone, Microsoft created a new user interface, featuring its Modern design language (which was formerly known as "Metro"). Additionally, the software is integrated with third-party and Microsoft services, and sets minimum requirements for the hardware on which it runs.
Microsoft first unveiled Windows Phone 7 in Barcelona at the 2010 Mobile World Congress on February 15, and revealed more details at the MIX 2010 on March 15. The final SDK was released to manufactures on September 16, 2010.
Windows Phone 7 is the successor to the Windows Mobile Series. It is aimed at the consumer market unlike it's predecessor which was made with the enterprise clients in mind. It was launched in Europe, Singapore and Australia on October 21, 2010, in the US and Canada on November 10, 2010, in Mexico on November 18, 2010 and in Asia during 2011.
Microsoft has offered a new user interface named Metro with Windows Phone 7 which is tightly integrated with some online services from Microsoft and some third party sources. The company has also provided strict hardware specifications which the Windows Phone manufacturers have to stick to.
The Windows Phone 7 features the Metro UI, which has it's roots in Microsoft's Zune lineup of Multimedia devices. The homescreen (start screen) is made up of tiles which are linked to applications, features, functions or individual items (contacts, web pages, media). Users can add, arrange or remove tiles. These tiles are dynamic and update the information automatically, which means you will be viewing live weather on your tile, or get notifications on the last email you received.
The other main component that makes up the Windows Phone UI is hubs. Hubs combine both local and online content. They can be integrated with social networks such as Facebook, allowing for example the Pictures Hub to show content from both the phone's camera and the album's you have stored on Facebook. Other built in hubs include, Music, Video, Games, Office & the Windows Phone Marketplace.
The UI features multi touch, allowing gestures such as pinch and zoom to be used on the entire OS. The UI also is intentionally built using a dark theme to prolong battery life, as the dark colors take up less power to display on the OLED screens of the devices.
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.
Windows Phone 7.5 features a version of Internet Explorer Mobile with a rendering engine that is based on Internet Explorer 9.
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.
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.
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.
Windows Phone supports Outlook.com, 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 "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.
In other cases, pressing the Search button will allow the user to perform a search of web sites, news, and map locations using the Bing application.
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.
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".
Since its launch Microsoft has released two major updates to the Windows Phone platform along with several minor updates. Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) was announced at the 2011 Mobile World Congress and brought several improvements to the platform 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.
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.
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 requires the following hardware
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