Sr. VP of our Mobile Communications Business, Andy Lees is in Washington, DC today showing thousands of Microsoft partners a line of consumer products and services that are truly connected with one another. He’s also showing off our own Windows Phone 7 and sharing a few updates on features and capabilities.
When we talk about connected entertainment, we’re talking about the ability to enjoy great experiences on whatever device or machine you’re using throughout the day, without needing an entirely different set of applications or credentials. For example, this holiday connected entertainment from Microsoft will span Windows 7 PCs, the Xbox 360 with Kinect and Windows Phone 7, coupled with services such as Xbox Live for games, Zune for music and video, Windows Live for email, calendars, pictures and services, and, of course, our decision engine: Bing.
My favorite product that features many of Microsoft’s new consumer technologies, for obvious reasons, is Windows Phone 7. It integrates experiences by consolidating common tasks and services around shared hubs that put the focus on what you want to do rather than putting the onus on you to move in and out of various apps. All the stuff you’d expect is right where you expect it – and that goes for content and services that live outside the phone.
So what does this look like in practice? Take search, or better yet, decision making. Bing comes built in, so just about wherever you go on your Windows Phone 7, search is only a button away. The Music + Videos hub draw upon the beautiful Zune software. Windows Phone 7 will connect with Zune software on the PC through Wi-Fi to access and manage music, video, high-resolution photos and other large file content. Similarly, the Games hub features Xbox Live and gamer content and a place for you to invite friends for a friendly – or not so friendly, depending on your preference – game. Windows Live integration is right where you’d expect it, in places like the People and Pictures hubs. When it’s time for some work, the Office hub brings together the powerful Office suite we all know and love: OneNote, Word, PowerPoint, and even SharePoint server integration. And, you can take advantage of the phone’s integration with Web based email and calendaring from Windows Live, Gmail and others, plus hosted Exchange accounts.
The Web is a great companion to just about any computing experience these days and today we’re talking a little more about some of the new services for Windows Phone 7 that tie the phone in your pocket up to the cloud. Through a push notification service that we’ve also extended to third party app developers, apps will be able to deliver real time updates. This way you know you’re getting the latest info at a glance, either as banner-style alerts or straight to the personalized live tiles on your phone’s Start screen. A feature we’re discussing for the first time today is the new Windows Phone Live companion site that gives people a central place to see pictures they’ve published, view their Windows Live calendar and contacts, exchange OneNote files and access other information shared between the phone and the Web. The site will offer25GB of SkyDrive and host the Find My Phone service, which allows people to find and manage a missing phone with map, ring, lock and erase capabilities right from your PC – and all for free.
Availability is becoming a hot topic as we get closer to the holiday timeframe we’ve committed to for delivering Windows Phone 7. We remain on track for that goal but also believe that launching Windows Phone 7 really is just one more big step along a new path – part of a course we’ve charted during a time when Smartphone sales are expected to double in the next four years alone according to some. This is a fresh start for Microsoft’s mobile efforts; one in which we put the end user experiences at the center of every decision we make, from architecting a new design and integrated on-phone experiences, to taking more accountability for the hardware and application development platform. We’ve implemented a more measured and structured philosophy to bringing phones to market so that customers have a great experience with the scenarios that matter most to them, thereby enabling us to establish a foundation for growth over the long term.
So what does this mean? We are working closely with our partners to determine exactly where and how Windows Phone 7 will be available regionally this holiday season and beyond. I’m happy to say that Windows Phone 7 will be well represented in countries around the world this holiday. During initial availability, Windows Phone 7 will support 5 languages; English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. The Windows Phone Marketplace will support the buying and selling of applications in 17 countries; Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK and United States.
The bottom line is that we believe it’s not enough to have exciting games, intuitive email, rich music, extensive social networking tools or even beautiful hardware to house it all. The magic comes when all of these things work together to bring the people and things you care about closer, while smoothing out your everyday tasks so that your day is a little bit easier. That’s what you’ll see from Microsoft this holiday; connected entertainment that’s bigger than any single screen.