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Definition: Windows Phone


Microsoft's second smartphone platform. Superseding Windows Mobile, Windows Phone was introduced in 2010. Although these phones were innovative and much loved, they faced huge competition from iPhones and Androids. BlackBerrys had also been around more than a decade. Even with Microsoft's clout, a fourth smartphone platform was too much for the user community, and Microsoft announced its end of life in 2017.

A Great Interface
Using the touch interface first deployed on Microsoft's Zune music player, Windows Phone (WinPhone) was a vast departure from the earlier Windows Mobile platform. The "live tile" interface displayed useful information on the home screen in real time. Nokia was so fond of the interface that it switched from its own extremely popular Symbian OS to Windows Phone (see Lumia). In 2013, Microsoft actually acquired Nokia's mobile phone division but sold it in 2017. See Windows Phone Store, live tiles, Windows Mobile and Symbian.

Integration of Office and Windows
A feature of Windows Phone was built-in support for editing Office documents, and messages from Facebook and Windows Live mail could be instantly viewed. In order to synchronize music, videos and photos, as well as update the OS, WinPhone required Zune software in the PC or connector software in the Mac (see Windows Phone Connector for Mac).

Windows 10 Mobile
Along with the introduction of Windows 10 in 2015, Windows Phone was renamed Windows 10 Mobile and featured more integration between desktop and mobile devices. See Cortana, Zune, Windows Phone Store, Windows Mobile, mobile compatibility and mobile device vendor control.




Windows Phone 7 (Old OS)
Branded with then-current Windows 7, WinPhone 7 introduced "live tiles." In 2011, Version 7.5 added app switching, Bing, social network integration and enhanced Office apps. These versions ran under Windows CE. See live tiles and Windows CE.






Windows Phone 8 (New OS)
In 2012, Microsoft switched to its new mobile OS. WinPhone 8 expanded the start screen and let users change tile size. In 2014, Version 8.1 added a notification center and other features. See Windows Phone 8. (Image courtesy of Microsoft Corporation).