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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 13, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Microsoft: New phones getting Kin’s coolest feature

Microsoft today confirmed that the coolest feature of its Kin phones is still alive.

That would be the companion website that Kin phone buyers get for viewing and sharing photos and other files on the device. Photos taken on the phones automatically show up on the website, where they can be viewed, saved or moved around.

Today the company confirmed, via the Windows Phone Blog, that similar pages will be provided to people using devices based on its upcoming Windows Phone 7 software. The post appeared as Microsoft executives were pitching the phone and other products at the company’s annual partner conference in Washington, D.C.

Microsoft is calling them Windows Phone Live companion sites. They’ll give people “a central place to see pictures they’ve published, view their Windows Live calendar and contacts, exchange OneNote files and access other information shared between the phone and the Web,” according to the post by Aaron Woodman, a director on the mobile team.

Here’s an image from February a Windows Phone 7 device and its “Picture Hub” desktop.

picturesscreen_web.jpg

A Microsoft distinguished engineer, Mike Toutonghi, developed a similar automatic photo synchronization system at a Seattle startup called Vizrea starting in 2004. It closed in 2007 and sold its technology to Microsoft and Toutonghi returned to the company.

The companion sites announced today will have more than just photos. They’ll extend the phone activity to computers and bigger displays, and connect to other services like Microsoft’s free SkyDrive online storage service and “Find My Phone,” which helps people map their phone’s location if it’s lost or make it ring so they can find it around the house.

These sites also differentiate Microsoft’s phones from those running Google’s Android software and Apple’s iPhone, which requires users to sync up files by connecting to a computer running iTunes.

Windows Phone 7 devices will also connect to Xbox Live and the Zune service for music and video content.

Woodman’s post also previews how Microsoft will emphasize the quality and usability of its software and services when pitching its mobile platform this holiday season.

“The bottom line is that we believe it’s not enough to have exciting games, intuitive email, rich music, extensive social networking tools or even beautiful hardware to house it all. The magic comes when all of these things work together to bring the people and things you care about closer, while smoothing out your everyday tasks so that your day is a little bit easier.”

During Chief Executive Steve Ballmer’s speech Monday, a slide was shown listing companies that will offer “7” series Windows phones later this year. They include HTC, Dell, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Sony Ericsson. Also listed was “Garmin-Asus,” suggesting a Windows version of the Garmin navigation phone is coming as well.

Comments | Topics: Android, iphone, iPhone

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