A mobile operating system for smartphones and mobile devices that serves as the successor to Microsoft’s initial mobile OS platform system, Windows Mobile. Unlike Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 8 (also referred to as WinPho8) and later versions are targeted more to the consumer market than the enterprise market, and it replaces the more traditional Microsoft Windows OS look and feel with a new “Metro” design system user interface.
Metro’s interface consists largely of a “Start screen” made up of “Live Tiles,” which are links to applications and features that are dynamic and update in real time. The Metro design is also expected to be prominently featured in Windows 8 as well.
As with Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android OS and the BlackBerry OS, third-party applications can be developed for Microsoft’s Windows Phone and are made available through Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace for Mobile. Microsoft doesn’t enable smartphones running versions of the older Windows Mobile operating system to be upgraded to Windows Phone 7 or Windows Phone 8, and these versions also do not offer backward compatibility with Windows Mobile applications.
New Features in Windows Phone 7
Windows Phone 7 features a multi-tab Internet Explorer Mobile Web browser that uses a rendering engine based on Internet Explorer 9 as well as Microsoft Office Mobile, a version of Microsoft Office that’s tailored for mobile devices.
An update for Windows Phone 7 called “Mango” added a variety of critical new features, including visual voicemail, third-party multitasking, a fully HTML5-compliant Web browser (Internet Explorer 9 Mobile), integrated instant messaging via Facebook and Windows Live Messenger, face-detection software capabilities, custom ringtones, threaded e-mail and messaging conversations support and more.
Windows Phone 8 and Beyond
Windows Phone 8 officially debuted in late October 2012, adding support for multi-core processors, a new secure “wallet” system for managing sensitive credit card and other financial data, turn-by-turn navigation capabilities, support for high-definition displays, a new Start Screen with customizable tile sizes and more.
Windows Phone 8 is also based on the same core technologies as the Windows 8 operating system, sharing common networking, file system, security, multimedia and technology, including the Internet Explorer 10 Web browser.
Microsoft released the Windows Phone 8.1 update, codenamed “Blue,” in April 2014. The company is expected to forgo a Windows Phone 9 release, instead choosing to go with Windows Phone 10 as the official name of the next major update of Windows Phone.