Although the first models running Windows Phone 7 won't be on the market until the end of this year, Microsoft has already begun to show off a few of the devices that will run its next smartphone operating system.
So far, Microsoft has given the world a brief glimpse of three upcoming models, each from a different company.
The first of these to be revealed was on display at the announcement of this new operating system in Barcelona last month. This smartphone was created by Asus, and right now this company is saying it is for demonstration purposes only. However, it's possible it may actually be released to the public.
It has a tablet shape with a minimalistic design. It has two cameras, though, one front facing.
The second Windows Phone 7 model is being made by LG, and Microsoft actually started showing it off several weeks ago.
This device will have a sliding landscape oriented keyboard, but will still be just a bit thicker than an iPhone. It is going to have a trackpad below its touchscreen, and also will sports a front-facing camera.
The third model was used during yesterday's formal announcement of the developer tools for Microsoft's new operating system.
It was designed by Samsung, and has a tablet shape and chrome buttons. This device is the only one of this group to already have a name: the Samsung Omnia 3.
Meeting the Requirements
Although the full list of specifications for these three smartphones has not yet been made available, it's nevertheless possible to give a fairly complete description of them. That's because Microsoft is requiring all devices running Windows Phone 7 to meet some fairly stringent hardware requirements.
At launch, all devices running this new operating system will have to have a WVGA (800 x 480) capacitive touchscreen. Support for HVGA screen will be added later.
In addition, all models have to include Wi-Fi, a 5 megapixel camera with flash, a GPS receiver, and at least 8 GB of storage and 256 MB of RAM.
Microsoft is even specifying the number and arrangements of buttons below the screen, one of which has to be dedicated to the Bing search engine.
The feature list also must include an accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor, and an FM radio.
These are just the first three devices running Windows Phone 7 to be shown off, not the only ones that are in the pipeline. Microsoft said recently that HTC, HP, Toshiba, Samsung, and Dell are also working on models running this operating system.
When the hardware and software is ready, these devices will be offered by AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, Orange, and many other carriers.
As mentioned earlier, no smartphones running Windows Phone 7 are going to be on sale until near the end of this year. Microsoft is promising they will be on the market in time for the holiday shopping rush.
More about Windows Phone 7
Despite its name, Microsoft's next smartphone operating system has little in common with its predecessors. It will have a completely different user interface and won't run applications written for the earlier versions nor will any current models be upgradeable.
Its focus has moved to consumers, and its UI emphasizes social networking, pictures, games, etc. It has also been redesigned to be controlled with a fingertip.
Just about the only significant similarity between old and new is that both include Microsoft Office Mobile and support for synchronizing with Microsoft Exchange.
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