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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

October 11, 2010 at 8:04 AM

WP7: Highlights and recap of Microsoft Windows Phone 7 news conference

NEW YORK — Microsoft showed off the new Windows Phone 7 this morning in a bid to win back mobile phone users.

“We want to let you get in out and back to life and have that be as fast and simple as humanly possible,” said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. He called the new phone “always delightful and wonderfully mine.”

He repeated several times that the phone would be “different.” The company is trying to catch up with Apple’s iPhone and Google Android, which have a large share of the smartphone market.

The first phone will be available on Nov. 8 through AT&T Wireless, and in Europe and Asia on Oct. 21.

AT&T Wireless will offer three phones for $199.99. The LG Quantum, which has a slide-out keyboard; the HTC Surround, which has a set of slide-out Dolby speakers; and the Samsung Focus, which has an OLED display screen. T-Mobile USA will be offering the HD7 from HTC.

Ballmer said in all there will be nine phones available in the U.S. More than 60 wireless carriers will offer the phone in 30 countries.

“The user experience is unlike anything we have seen,” said Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “Microsoft has done a great job making the user experience fun, fast and personal.”

Here is a hail of bullets:

  • All Windows Phones will have three buttons on the front: a back button, a Windows start button and a search button.
  • The phone’s home screen has a series of “live tiles,” which animate and populate with the latest e-mails, calendar items and status updates. For instance, you can pin a tile to your home screen that connects to your spouse’s contact info, and it will automatically pull up his or her latest photos and Facebook status updates.
  • The phone will have six hubs that mash up areas of interest: people, photos, office, Xbox Live, music and search.
  • The photos hub will pull images from Facebook and other applications.
  • The Office hub can open up Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. It can also access files stored on collaboration software SharePoint.
  • The music hub has Microsoft’s Zune software, and developers can build apps for it as well.
  • Search. Search automatically brings up local results and maps. So if you search for “thai food,” it will return Thai restaurant listings from the area around your phone and a map of them. It can also switch to regular Web or news results. Instead of typing into the phone, people can search with voice, which uses Microsoft’s TellMe service.
  • Games: A major differentiator for Microsoft from Apple and Google is the integration with Xbox Live video game online service. Users can access their Xbox Live avatars. Microsoft said EA will have games at launch, including “Sims.”
  • Note taking uses a free version of Microsoft Office software OneNote. It will sync with the Web so the notes can also be accessed through a PC.
  • Copy and pasting will not be available on the phone at launch but will be coming through a software update in early 2011.

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