Windows Phone 7 arrives in UK on 21 October

Microsoft has unveiled its Windows Phone 7, saying it’s about creating “my phone”

Speaking in New York, CEO Steve Ballmer said the first six handsets will arrive in the UK starting from 21 October, and nine handsets will arrive in the US in November.

In the UK, the HTC 7 Mozart will only be available on Orange, and offers an 8-megapixel camera and a unibody aluminium design. The HTC 7 Trophy is smaller with a 3.8in screen and will be available on Vodafone, while the HTC HD 7 features the largest screen in the Windows Phone lineup, a 4in AMOLED with a horizontal kickstand to prop it up.

The Samsung Omnia 7 has a 4in AMOLED super bright screen, while the LG Optimus lets users play their videos to TV.

Lastly, there’s the Dell Venue Pro, a ruggedised device with scratch and shatter resistant 4.2in screen and Qwerty keyboard. It will not arrive this month in the UK, but by Christmas, a Dell spokesperson said.

“A different kind of phone”

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for sometime,” said Ballmer. “We think very much that after today, that with Windows Phone, we really have built with our partners, a different kind of a phone,” he added.

That difference is getting people away from their phones, he said. “Get in, out and back to life – have that be as fast and as simple as humanly possible,” he said.

The key feature that allows this is the use of live tiles instead of icons. The larger tiles on Windows Phone 7 pull data out of the application – such as what time an alarm is set for or forthcoming calendar entries – so the user can see the relevant data without actually clicking through.

The same system is used on the lock screen, which – aside from a full photo – pulls out calendar and messaging details from inside apps to show them directly on the front of the phone.

“I didn’t have to unlock the phone to get the information,” said Aaron Woodman, the director of Microsoft’s consumer mobile business, giving a demo of the system in London. “It’s much more glanceable.”

The tiles and variety of devices also allow for a more customised experience, Ballmer claimed. “It’s got to be mine – the diversity in experience and the customisation for me is very important,” Ballmer said, calling it “my phone, your phone” – and taking a dig at the one-size-fits all Apple iPhone.

Despite the enthusiasm at the demo – and praise from Apple-enthusiast Stephen Fry, who wandered on stage stressing he wasn’t being paid to be there – Microsoft is very aware it has a serious battle ahead.

“We do realise this isn’t going to be an easy journey,” said Ashley Highfield, managing director for consumer in the UK. “We hope to change the perception of those who haven’t been too happy with our previous efforts.”

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