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Windows Phone 7 smartphones explained

Windows Phone 7 is the first major iteration of Microsoft's all-new smartphone operating system. Reborn from the ashes of its forebear Windows Mobile, the clean and clear Windows Phone OS is designed to be more intuitive than ever and to make it as easy as possible to keep in touch with the people and information that matter to you.

Windows Phone's superb user interface also affords you ample scope for customisation, enabling you to set up your smartphone just the way your want it, so that all your most favourite features, apps and contacts are only ever a single tap away. It also has a very low learning curve that makes it incredibly easy for even the most inexperienced users to get to grips with.

That's not all. Because Windows Phone is a multitasking operating system and comes with Microsoft's superb Office suite of applications out of the box, plus free cloud storage to keep your files accessible across devices, it's ideal for working on the move too.

The Windows Phone 7 user interface

Windows Phone 7 uses a unique user interface where items on the home screen are arranged like tiles. Some of these tiles are known as 'hubs' that serve a special purpose. We explain some of the popular hubs below:

People Hub

The People Hub is focussed on seamless communication and social networking. Pop inside and you can call, text and email your nearest and dearest, plus check their social network updates updates - all in one place.

Also featured here is the Me card, which allows you to update your status across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn without ever needing to log into another application.

Pictures Hub

As the name suggests, the Pictures Hub is a home for all your photos. That includes ones you've taken on the device, as well as those that your friends have posted on Facebook.

Games Hub

Gaming is one of the key selling points of Windows Phone 7. Not least because it offers titles from the Xbox Live Arcade right on your handset.

The Games Hub is where you can find all the titles you've downloaded. It's also where can keep an eye on your Xbox profile and the online status of your friends. If you own and love the Xbox, Windows Phone should be a no-brainer for your next smartphone.

Music & Video Hub

This hub is all about entertainment. Head here when you want to stream, play and download music and movies. When you need to get your hands on new content, you can simply head to the Marketplace Hub where you can choose from a massive range of tunes, films and more.

Windows Phone 7 apps

No smartphone is complete nowadays without a selection of apps, or applications, to download. Windows Phone 7 apps take in everything from fun games and diversions to more practical business tools that'll help make your working day easier. Better still, many are free to download and there's something for everyone.

What else does Windows Phone 7 offer?

Naturally, Windows Phone 7 smartphones are also home to the kind of features that are now standard on modern mobiles, such as a media player, web browser, FM radio, on board cameras, large touchscreens often measuring over four-inches, push email and the ability to perform tasks and conduct online searches by just using your voice.

The best Windows Phone handsets come with a minimum dual core processor to handle anything you can throw at it with aplomb. This combines with the slick operating system to keep everything ticking over smoothly, even when you've got multiple applications open.

Windows Phone 7 & security

In the event that you lose your phone and it's packed with sensitive information, Windows Phone 7 mobiles have got you covered. If you head to the Windows Phone Live website, you can wipe your smartphone of information remotely. Better still, you can lock it too and even use its GPS functionality to track down its location on a map. But Windows Phone Live isn't just for security. It also allows you to remotely transfer photos, songs and media content to your handset using cloud storage.

Who makes Windows Phone 7 smartphones?

The Windows Phone 7 platform has been picked by a host of manufacturers. Phone makers to have brought mobiles to market using Microsoft's platform include HTC, whose handsets range from the fantastic 8X and 8S. Samsung, Dell and LG also offer Windows Phone 7 handsets and because it's a fast growing operating system, it's ought to be picked up by many more companies in the future.