Windows Phone 7 SeriesRumors have been flying for weeks, but today it became official as Microsoft introduced a new concept for Windows Phones, ending the “Windows Mobile” era.  At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Steve Ballmer and Joe Belfiore shared plans for the next generation of devices from Microsoft – Windows Phone 7 Series.


This is not your father’s Windows Mobile

It’s pretty clear that Microsoft went back to the drawing board to rethink the mobile user experience, and the idea that the mobile device is just a tiny version of a Windows desktop no longer dominates the approach.  The new user-interface (known as “Metro”) is rather Zune-like – in fact, every Windows Phone 7 Series is also a Zune device!

Picture hub Windows Phone 7 Series focuses on core facets of a mobile user’s interaction – via hubs that integrate applications and services from multiple sources into a singular experience.  For example, via the People hub, you’ll see not only contact information but also your friends’ latest updates on Twitter, what photos they just posted to Flickr and more, all from a common point of access.

There are other hubs as well: Pictures as you see to the left; Music and Video, with integration to Zune PassGames, bringing the XBox LIVE experience Live Tilesto your mobile device; and Office, with access to the productivity apps you know and love.

Additionally, the Start screen experience exposes configurable “live tiles” that can point to contacts, play lists, applications, and more, providing instant access to the features you use most, all updating in real time as friends’ statuses change, an updated weather forecast becomes available, and so on.

All Windows Phone 7 Series devices, regardless of hardware vendor, will share a consistent profile as well.  They will each have three hardware buttons: Start, Back, and Search (Bing, of course), and they will all be capacitive touch devices providing a smooth multi-touch experience across the board.

I Want it Now!

Microsoft is already working with multiple carriers and hardware vendors to ensure devices are ready for consumers for Holiday Season 2010.  At launch T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and others will provide service on devices from Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC Corporation, HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, and Qualcomm Inc.

What’s missing in this picture – the development platform story! But don’t worry, it’s coming soon and will be one of the focuses at MIX 10 in March in Las Vegas.   Many of you have already caught wind of something being up in the mobile realm when placeholders for about a dozen new sessions at MIX were put up last week.  In fact, coincident with today’s announcement, there’s a special offer for MIX attendance – a $200 discount available if you register before February 21st!

So, how do you find out more?