Could Windows Phone 7 Series, announced today, do the impossible and bridge the gap between Microsoft's all-important business market and normal consumers?
Certainly, the new tiled interface is very much more people- than productivity-focused, but Microsoft knows that many people who use Windows Mobile currently want an iPhone or similar – the OS is simply far too exciting for them to be happy with their rather dull existing Windows Mobile devices.
And, with features like the Office Hub in Windows Phone 7 Series, the integration with business features is still very much present.
Windows Phone 7 Series is make or break for the Redmond giant. It knows that the age of the cheap smartphone is here and that Android has seriously raised the game.
It's not just about the iPhone like it was two years ago. There's now a whole host of incoming handsets, like Sony Ericsson's new X10 mini – that are gunning for the smartphone space, once complacently occupied primarily by Microsoft itself.
So it's great that Windows Phone 7 Series is a really classy-looking OS that appears to run true and fast (at least in the demo). If it can fulfil its potential, it can at least keep Microsoft in the game. And that's all the software giant can have expected.
The People Hub (above) isn't a truly unique feature for Microsoft - features like Samsung's Ultimate Inbox are very similar, but Microsoft realises that people's lives are becoming less segregated between work and home and devices such as the iPhone have very much changed the game here.
And Microsoft might just pull it off. Using the Zune-style experience to make an extremely classy user interface, Xbox Live and the Zune software to sync data with the iPhone, iTunes-style is a masterstroke, even if it was all widely predicted.
Windows Phone 7 Series might just assuage the phone desires of those who need to use a Windows Phone for work, but who covet a smartphone they can use at home, too.
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