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Windows Mobile is Dead; Meet Windows Phone 7

Ballmer today introduced attendees at MWC to Windows Phone 7, the latest update to its mobile phone software. Unlike previous point updates to Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7 is being touted as a complete reboot of the mobile OS.

"Windows Mobile is dead," said Aaron Woodman, director of the Mobile Communications Business for Microsoft's Consumer Experiences Product Management team.

Speculation in recent months had pointed toward a 'Zune Phone' branding system but MS has said the phones will stick with the Windows moniker. That said, the UI does bear a certain resemblance to that of the Zune HD.

PCMag reports that Windows Phone 7 uses a bold array of tiles and pivoting panels to let users easily access their personal information, Zune music and Xbox Live gamer card.

The main screen consists five 'live tiles.' These are separate boxes for Internet Explorer, phone, text, people, pictures and Multimedia/Zune. With just three physical buttons, WP7 includes a dedicated Bing key for searching.

Ballmer has said Windows Phone 7 devices will be available in time for the holiday period and HTC has plans to release a Windows phone in the fourth quarter of this year. Other partners include Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC, HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Qualcomm.

Most interestingly, all four of the major U.S. carriers are on board; AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will all carry Windows Phone 7 devices. As far as Europe is concerned, you've got Deutsche Telekom, Orange, SFR, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telstra, and Vodafone.