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After a long string of clumsy mobile releases, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 strikes us as one of the better designs to pass through our labs. After more than a month of using the latest build on a Nokia Lumia 800, we think WP7 deserves consideration.
After several unsuccessful mobile offerings, Microsoft has released Windows Phone 7 (WP7). With 71% of smartphone owners using either an Android or iPhone device, according to Nielsen, it might not seem like Microsoft's new mobile operating system stands much of a chance. However, quite a few companies have announced their support for WP7, and we believe the WP7 is worth watching.
The name "Windows Phone 7" is somewhat misleading. Microsoft unveiled WP7 in 2010; in 2011, a massive update added a mobile version of IE9 supporting Web standards, Twitter integration, and multitasking. This update was called Windows Phone 7.5 (also referred to as Mango). However, the mobile operating system still goes by the name WP7. Specific references to version history usually make use of the code name.
For the folks considering a smartphone with WP7, accepting and growing accustomed to a very different Microsoft-driven ecosystem will probably represent the biggest change. Indeed, for most of the crew at Tom's Hardware, much experience with Android- and iOS-based devices has colored our expectations of mobility. Consequently, I made sure to take my time getting used to WP7 before writing this review, making Nokia's Lumia 800 my personal smartphone for the last month and a half. After acclimating to Windows Phone 7, I'm convinced that anyone shopping for a new phone should at least consider Microsoft's mobile operating system as a viable environment on the right piece of hardware.
Today, we take a closer look at the usability of WP7. And we can take our time. This wasn't forced under the constraint of a tight embargo, but rather allowed to emerge after a lot of real-world experience. This isn't just another gadget review; it's more than a month living with a new mobile device.