Windows Phone 7 has landed

Plenty of handsets, none of them available today

WINDOWS PHONE 7 has finally arrived some eight months almost to the day since the new phone OS from Microsoft was first unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona back in February. One thing that’s certain after today’s launch is that Microsoft has the backing of the device makers with Dell, HTC, LG and Samsung all launching handsets.

Of the hardware launch partners from February, we’re still missing devices from Garmin-Asus, HP, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba, in other words half of the expected device makers. Now this could be down to several things, such as shift in business focus especially when we’re talking about HP here and its purchase of Palm, but it’s nonetheless interesting to note that so many of the original partners are missing from the all-important launch event.

All of the handsets announced so far have remarkably similar specifications, as they all sport capacitive 480×800 resolution displays, 1GHz Qualcomm ARM Cortex-A8 based processors and at least 8GB of built in storage memory. This is part of Microsoft’s minimum specifications for Windows Phone 7 and to this we should also add a minimum of 256MB of RAM, a 5 Megapixel camera with some sort of flash, various built in sensors, an aGPS receiver and an FM radio tuner. Some of the announced handsets exceed this spec by adding 16GB of built in storage memory and 8 Megapixel cameras, but most adhere to the base spec. Screen sizes so far range from 3.5 to 4.1-inches depending on the manufacturer and model.  

The first handsets are expected to go on sale in Europe, as well as Australia and Singapore on the 21st of this month, with North America following in November. Other markets are also likely to get Windows Phone 7 handsets, but we’re hearing that they might end up with reduced functionality due to certain services not being available in those markets. Some of the new devices will be operator specific and some won’t arrive until early next year, such as the HTC 7 Pro on Sprint. As always the various mobile network systems also limit device availability to either one network or a specific region of the world.

As for the OS itself, well, we can without a doubt say that it’s a step up from the ageing Windows Mobile 6.5 which itself was based on Windows CE. We’re not sold on the new UI, but as we have yet to actually try one of the devices ourselves, it’s too early to say either which way. However, Microsoft has had a lot of positive feedback so far and the company has integrated a range of new features such as Xbox LIVE, Office Mobile, Zune, Windows Live and Bing search to mention a few additions to the new mobile OS. It seems like a data connection won’t be an option if you want to take advantage of all the features on Windows Phone 7, especially as many of if features relies on having internet access.

There are a few things missing though, such as copy and paste, much like a certain other company’s famous device once did. However, this is meant to be sorted out via a downloadable update sometime next year and we presume this will arrive alongside whatever else needs to be added and/or fixed. If you want a quick glance at all of the new devices and the key differentiators between them, we’d suggest you head over to Engadget who’s kindly compiled a list comparing the various handsets and they’ve also listed which network each of the various devices will be available on.S|A

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