Unfortunately, Windows Phone 7 handsets won't hit store shelves till the holiday season. LG recently raised some false hopes after the company told Engadget Mobile China that it would release its first Window Phone 7 smartphone as early as September. However, LG has since backed away from that statement and said its goal is to ship devices in Q4.
Microsoft revealed its Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and carrier partners at Mobile World Congress 2010. Hardware partners include Dell, HTC, Garmin-Asus, HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Toshiba. Qualcomm will be the chip provider. Carrier partnerships include AT&T, T-Mobile USA, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, Deutsch Telecom, Orange, Telecom Italia, SFR, Telefonica, Telstra, and Vodafone.
At the official unveiling event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer added that the company is working closely with AT&T and Orange, in particular, to have devices at launch.
Though the new user interface was certainly exciting, one of the most interesting things we took away from the press conference was the fact that Microsoft is tightening its grip on what OEMs can and cannot do with hardware and software. With Windows Phone 7 Series, each handset will be required to have a Home, Back, and Search button, and they won't be able to replace or skin the UI.
Microsoft said the reason behind this is to provide a consistent user experience across all of its phones, but added that its partners will still have opportunities to customize devices, as long as its "synergistic with what we have provided." In fact, when we asked HTC about this at Mobile World Congress, the company said that you will still see HTC Sense on its Windows Phone 7 Series mobiles, but just not in the way you're used to seeing it now.
All that said, there are reports that Windows Phone 7 Series hardware will come in three models. Chassis 1 will have a full touch screen, 1GHz processor, and dedicated graphics accelerator. Chassis 2 will feature a touch screen and a dedicated keyboard (a la Palm Treo), but as SlashGear points out, the Treo comparison is somewhat strange since Microsoft has specific requirements for screen aspect/size. Finally, Chassis 3 is a mystery, though some suspect a candy-bar-type design. When asked about this, Microsoft said it does not comment on rumors or speculation.
No, it will only support capacitive screens and multitouch. The first batch of Windows Phone 7 Series handsets will support WVGA resolution (800x480 pixels) but eventually will open up to HVGA (480x320 pixels) touch screens.
At Mobile World Congress, Microsoft said that the OS was designed to provide a great user experience so you can do things like listen to music and search the Web. However, more details about multitasking were revealed at MIX10 that seem to point to the fact that the platform won't support true multitasking like Palm WebOS.
As CNET News reporter Ina Fried points out in her article, the devil is in the details. On the one hand, the core of Windows Phone 7 allows the OS to multitask in the sense of retrieving and processing Web pages and e-mail in the background. However, Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice president and director of Windows Phone Program Management, told Fried that the company is more focused on ensuring that apps can save their place when another app is open in the foreground, rather than having them run in the background.
In addition, though one can play music using the built-in Zune player while working on another task, a third-party music app wouldn't be able to do the same thing using its own technology. Belfiore added that the company is exploring the idea of giving developers access to the Zune player to allow this type of multitasking.
Microsoft also demonstrated at MIX10 how push notifications would work on Windows Phone 7. Using the Major League Soccer app as an example, Microsoft's Charlie Kindel showed the audience how one could be working the Calendar app and still receive notifications (e.g., updated soccer scores) via an inconspicuous pop-up alert along the top of the screen, even if the app isn't running. From there, the user can tap on the notification to open the full app and get more information.