Windows Phone is an operating system (or ‘OS’) developed and owned by Microsoft. Windows Phone was first launched in October 2010 and features large scale changes and improvements from Microsoft’s earlier ‘Windows Mobile’ OS.
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Windows Phone is available on a range of phones manufactured by partner companies to Microsoft. Windows Phone handset manufacturers include HTC, Dell, Samsung, LG and Nokia. Nokia began manufacturing smartphones employing the Windows Phone OS following a a highly publicised partnership with Microsoft in 2011. Nokia´s first WP phones were the Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710, in late 2011, followed by the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 in 2012.
All phones running Windows Phone feature large touchscreens as their main input method alongside 6 hardware function keys. Microsoft issue minimum hardware requirements to WP manufacturers, so all phones have internal components of sufficient quality to ensure a smooth user experience.
Windows Phone smartphones feature downloadable third party applications through the Windows Phone Marketplace. There are over 100.000 apps available for users to download, including a mixture of both free and paid apps and games. The Windows Phone Marketplace also offers a trial service that allows users to try out the features of paid apps before purchasing.
Further downloadable applications are available through the Zune Marketplace, which features a number of apps and games developed by Microsoft. Windows Phone handsets also come with a number of pre-installed Microsoft apps, including mobile versions of Microsoft Office applications.
Though Windows Phone is the successor to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS, it is generally considered to be a new and separate operating system. The initial release in September 2010 was called Windows Phone 7 incremental updates have been applied since then..
In early 2011, a minor update, ‘NoDo’, implemented copy and paste functions and also included software tweaks to significantly reduce application loading times. In late 2011 a major update codenamed ´Mango´ was released, updating the OS from version 7.0 to 7.5. Notable additions and improvements in the 7.5 ´Mango´ update included the ability to multitask third party apps and games, improved social networking, battery saving features and an improved browsing experience, among many more new features.