Microsoft have officially launched Windows Phone 7
and with it the Windows Phone Series, promising we'll see the first devices on the market in time for the holiday 2010 shopping season. Windows Phone 7 marks a new, more end-user aware phase for the platform, with Zune and Xbox integration, together with stricter controls over the overall end-user experience: third-party UIs, such as HTC Sense
, will not be allowed (though OEMs will be able to add into the new WP7 UI), and while they're not yet revealing the details, Microsoft have a long technical specifications list for handset manufacturers that will better standardize the platform.
There are no handsets debuting today - though HTC, Dell and Qualcomm are among the manufacturers onboard - and all of the demo devices are unbranded, generic models specially built by ASUS. Still, they're a decent example of what we can expect: a large, multitouch-friendly capacitive touchscreen with a glass front, three front-panel buttons (back, Start and search), GPS and a rear-mounted camera. They also have a front-facing camera, though there won't apparently be support for it natively in Windows Phone 7, and OEMs are limited to what hardware controls they can add; it's pretty much down to volume buttons, camera shortcut and power.