You can read TechRadar's Windows Phone 7 review for a thorough picking apart of Microsoft's new mobile operating system, but read on for our experience of it on the HTC 7 Trophy.

There's no denying that Windows Phone 7 is something else compared to the other big boys on the market. Marrying the uniform structure of Apple's iOS with the live updates you might expect to find on Android, it's clearly designed to draw the eye.

The Home screen uses a system of 'tiles', which are either square or a rectangle. Some of them update with live information, such as the Messaging and email tiles, while others have fancy effects.

HTC 7 trophy

The People tile has animated changing grid of your contacts' and Facebook friends' photos; the Me tile has your Facebook photo scroll on and off it; and the Xbox Live tile is occasionally invaded by your avatar, before the Xbox Live logo forcibly bumps him/her back out of view.

You can 'pin' apps to this Home screen (the full app list is available by scrolling right), as well as contacts, websites, favourite albums and other things. There's doesn't seem to be a limit to how much you can fit here, so we recommend not going too crazy or you'll never find anything.

HTC 7 trophy

While Microsoft has touted Windows Phone 7 as being customisable, it's not in the way we tend to think of that term. We're used to Android-level tweaking, with a choice of a million widgets, wallpapers, overlays, keyboards and so on.

On WP7, you can choose a white or black background and choose a dominant colour for the tiles (some will always stay the same colour, such as the blue of the Twitter app). You can rearrange the tiles, but at first glance it doesn't appear to have the kind of customisation we were promised.

HTC 7 trophy

The thing is: it does. But it's not what we're used to, and it's not done by the user. The People tile may be uniform in its style and function between all WP7 owners, but the people that appear in the pictures that flash up aren't. They're your friends.

You can't choose an alternate music player, but the tile for Zune app will pull down a wallpaper of one of your favourite bands from the Marketplace and use it as the image on the Zune. You don't need to ask it to do this, you'll just look down and go, "Hey! I like them!"

When you choose a tile, all of the other tiles swing forward off the screen, with the one you selected lingering for a moment as confirmation. As if from behind the screen, the new app or hub you chose then rotates into view. All this movement is performed as if they're the pages of the world's most advanced book, always connected at the left.

Probably the most famous part of the WP7 interface is the large typography at the top of apps that half disappears off the screen. It serves to indicate there's more content to be seen, and helps you keep track of your relative position in the app. Sometimes, they text here also acts as tabs, of the kind that would simple be listed in small buttons at the top of the screen on iOS.

HTC 7 trophy

Though having the words half fall off the screen may be a good way of indicating that there's more content to the right, it would undoubtedly be simpler to simply have some buttons so you could see every option at once. That's much more boring, though.

Like iOS, in-depth options are often hidden behind a long press or tapping something out of the ordinary. In any list arranged alphabetically, you can double-tap on a blank spot or single-tap one of the letters to bring up the full alphabet and skip to a letter.

HTC 7 trophy

There's also the ellipsis to take notice of. Frequently, a few simple options will appear on screen, with a set of three dots to their right. Tap the dots and you'll bring a longer list of lesser-used commands.

The three buttons below the Trophy's screen exhibit a funny mix of behaviours. The central Start button always takes you to the Home screen – simple enough.

The Back button usually takes you back a screen from where you are, but it doesn't necessarily take you up a level in the OS. So if you've been hunting through lots of artists in the music player, it'll take you back through all of them, rather than immediately out of the artist view to the Music and Video hub.

The Search button is designed to be context sensitive for the app you're in, meaning that if you're in your contacts list, it'll search there. If you're in emails, it'll search through them. Press it from the Home screen and you go straight to Bing search.

This is a bit hit-and-miss with third-party apps, sadly. Want to search for something in the Twitter app? Well, you can, but only using the button actually in the app that looks identical to the Search button, because the Search button itself will take you to Bing, exiting Twitter altogether.

We have to say, the Windows Phone 7 interface is so intentionally over-designed that we can't help but love it. There are so many little animations and bits that seem to be in here purely to make the user smile.

When you scroll past the bottom of a list, the items in the list bunch together, as though they're a coiled spring. When you release your finger, they bounce back to fill the space left.

On the Home screen, when you reach the bottom, the arrow on the right bounces, as if to say, "You've reached the end of this screen, but follow me for more!"

If all of the window dressing affected performance, we'd probably be criticising Microsoft for it. But it doesn't. Windows Phone 7's interface is astonishingly fast. Sure, apps take time to load, but that's true of all smartphones.

Windows Phone 7 is smooth, responsive and beautiful. Function takes a bit of a backseat, but in favour of usability. For a lot of people, that's a fair trade.

Not many people are likely to use it, but you can also activate voice control by holding the Start button. We found that it actually worked really well (and came with a British voice!), but we still don't imagine we'll use it too often.