Windows Phone 6.5 review: first look

Microsoft only took the wraps of the final version of the operating system today, but here's our first look review of what Windows Phone 6.5 (formerly Windows Mobile 6.5) has to offer.

Communication

The OS will support up to 10 POP3 email accounts, one Hotmail and one Exchange account. Set-up takes just a few minutes and is a very easy step-by-step process.

IM is another key comms feature of the new OS, with the ability to send voice clips a particularly novel but useful feature for businesses and consumers alike.

Ignoring the HTC Touch Pro2's hard keyboard for a moment, we were pleasantly surprised by the OS' virtual keyboard. Keys are nicely spaced and easy to use and we're confident that the majority of users will be speed typing after just a few sessions.

Internet Explorer also looks much finer than we've seen it on a mobile device before, with the user being able to define whether or not to view items in a mobile or full browser. Microsoft's search engine Bing is also on board, which should provide a pleasant and intuitive search experience for users. However, we would like to spend a bit more time putting IE through its paces before we reach a final conclusion.

Perhaps the biggest draw and the biggest wow factor for us during the demo is the My Phone tool. This lets users synchronise the content on their devices as often as suits them, enabling information to be wiped and/or restored in the event of the handset being lost or stolen.

My Phone also boasts a web interface, which users can access wherever they are in the office, at home or an internet caf that showcases everything hosted on the phone with a Windows Live-esque look and feel. At a glance, users can easily see what photos, documents and phones they have (particularly useful if they have more than one handset), even if they're in the US and their device is sitting next to their bed back in Blighty.

We only got to spend a brief time with Microsoft's shiny new OS, but during the time we were pleasantly surprised by the changed Microsoft has made.

We're certainly looking forward to seeing what further enhancements mobile manufacturers can make to the OS with their own skins. And, from what we've seen of Windows Phone 6.5 so far, those who've dismissed it out of hand in the past may well come back for a second look.

Verdict

We're encouraged by the vast transformation Microsoft has made to Windows Mobile 6.5 since 6.1. With support from many different manufacturers and an enhanced and more user friendly OS, the future is looking decidedly brighter for Windows Phone.

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