Microsoft has finally unveiled Windows Phone in India about a year after the launch in US and other countries. The operating system that has garnered rave reviews in international media and technology publications has recently been updated to version 7.5.
Windows Phone features a distinct and immersive user experience compared to the regular smartphone interface that features a sea of icons. The conventional application icons have been replaced by Live Tiles on the Start screen. These Live Tiles provide information and notifications at a glance and are updated in real-time from the Web. The 'Metro' user interface is a visually appealing experience inspired by the clean, alive in motion signage in the real world.
Windows Phone enables quick access to services and to consume content in a seamless manner using integrated experiences called hubs. These hubs bring together related content into a single view.
People: This hub delivers an engaging social experience by bringing together content from your friends on different social networks - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Windows Live. You can post updates to these networks, and check what your friends are up to.
o Pictures: This hub makes it easy to share pictures and video to a social network in one step. It also brings together your photos from Windows Live, Facebook, and the ones that you've taken with the phone's camera.
o Games: This hub delivers the Xbox LIVE experience on a phone, including Xbox LIVE (and independent) games. You could set your gamer profile and avatar, and play games.
o Music + Video: This hub provides you a complete media experience. You can listen to radio or music stored on your phone and watch videos. The podcasts that you subscribe through the accompanying Zune software are also available here.
o Marketplace: With over 30,000 apps and games, this hub allows the user to easily discover and load the phone with apps and games.
o Office: The Office hub allows you to work with your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents and take notes using the OneNote app. These can be synchronised with SkyDrive, Office 365 or SharePoint sites so they are available on the phone, PC, and Web.
Announcing the launch of Windows Phone in India, Mr. Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India said, "We are incredibly excited about today's unveiling of Windows Phone. With Windows Phone, we have looked at the consumer experience in an absolutely fresh way, and the end result is an operating system that is stylish, innovative, and one that seamlessly integrates the most sought after user experiences such as search, gaming, email and social networks across Bing, Office, Xbox LIVE, Facebook, Twitter and more."
In his presentation, Bhaskar Pramanik also mentioned that Microsoft is working with content publishers and businesses in India for apps for India-specific content and services. He showcased Times of India and Snapdeal.com apps which would soon be available in the Windows Phone Marketplace.
The Windows Phone launch included executives from hardware partners for Windows Phone - Nokia, HTC, Samsung, Acer, and Qualcomm. Microsoft announced a range of Windows Phone devices that will be available in India soon. While HTC Radar would be available in the markets starting next week for INR 23,990, Samsung Omnia W and Acer Allegro would be available in November. Samsung had earlier this month announced the price for Omnia W as INR 19,990. Subsequently, Nokia would also launch Windows Phone devices in India, and other countries.
Speaking about analyst predictions of Windows Phone being the No.2 smartphone platform by 2015, Vikas Arora, Group Director - Operator Channel, Microsoft, said that he'll be disappointed with No.2 position. He obviously would be taking cognisance of the fact that even though it's a crowded market, it is a steeply growing market. While Microsoft is confident of the product and the reviews are great, it would be a tough challenge to penetrate iPhone's hype, BlackBerry's enterprise hold, and a market flooded with Android devices at every price point.