Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer introduced his company's latest offering into the smartphone industry, Windows Phone 7, Monday morning in New York.
Microsoft is going the Google/Android route by developing software and allowing hardware manufacturers to create the handsets. Customers will get touchscreen thin handsets as well as QWERTY keyboard devices.
Ballmer describes the new phones, which will be GSM only for now (read: no Verizon) as "different" and "more modern" in design and usage.
He said the new phone focuses on how real people want to use their handsets.
The device will use something called Windows Phone Hubs, which appear as large box-shaped tile displays on the phone. They react in real time. Get a new email or a voicemail or even Twitter or Facebook updates, and the "hub" changes on your home screen.
The phone ships with six hubs: People, Pictures, Music/Video, Games Hub, Office and the Market (for apps).
The phone also can connect to Xbox Live. And the hubs are totally customizable.
There's a hard button to snap a photo with the camera which also helps access on board photos. Microsoft said uploading photos to the cloud is a snap.
Microsoft Office is also included here with a mobile version of Outlook and office document support. Users can also edit Office files from the phone, but until early next year the phone cannot copy and paste (ugh).
This could be huge for business users.
Is this going to be the device to get Microsoft on the field with Apple and Google and RIM? The devices out so far look slick and more and more customers are trying smartphones. The market is expected to grow to nearly 300 million sold devices next year from about 190 million expected this year.
The phone will be available in several versions from AT&T and T-Mobile for $199 with a two-year contract.