Find out everything you need to know about Windows Phone.
Windows Phone is a Smartphone operating system that was initially released in 2010, and developed by Microsoft. Over the years it has received a few upgrades, with one recent version being Windows Phone 8, released in April 2014. It is based on an interactive multi-touch technology, with original functions and user-interface design that differentiates Windows Phone from its competitors.
Best Windows Phones
What is Windows?
Windows Phone is an operating system developed by Microsoft. It is based on touchscreen capabilities, and is available on a range of mobile devices. The first version (7.0) was released in 2010 with a major focus on social networking compatibility. Over the next few years, many upgrades were released, which included faster processors, and screens with higher resolutions.
In 2011, Windows Phone became the primary smartphone operating system for Nokia and it became a major competitor in the smartphone Market. In 2013, Windows Phone acquired Nokia’s mobile phone division outright, due to the fact that Nokia mobile phones and the Windows Phone operating system were now developing on the same platform with better-matched products.Over the past few years, the dominance of Windows Phone has grown quite rapidly, becoming the newest competitor for iOS and Android.
How does the Windows operating system work?
Windows Phone has an operating system that focuses on touch screen capabilities. The user interface is based on a Microsoft Windows Phone design named Metro. It features an organised home screen called a ‘Start screen’, featuring various ‘tiles’. These ‘tiles’ link to applications, features and other functions of the smartphone.
It employs multi-touch technology, which means the device is controlled by tapping, swiping or pinching the surface of the screen. Overall, the user-interface was created to look original and fresh, differing greatly from its competitors.
What are the versions of the Windows operating system
- Windows 7. This version was the first to be released in 2010 and was available on HTC, Dell, Samsung and LG devices. It was supported 25 languages, with applications available through the ‘Windows Phone Store’ which is available in 35 countries and regions.
- Windows 2.0-2.11. This version, released in 1987, had improved speed and introduced the first versions of Microsoft Excel and Word. Its memory was supported by Intel’s 80386 processor, and this version of Windows made Microsoft the most used operating system in the world.
- Mango (Windows 7.5). Released in 2011, this version fixed many of the problems that were found with Windows 7. It featured a mobile version of Internet Explorer 9, applications, multi-tasking capabilities and Twitter integration for the ‘People Hub’ feature.
- Tango. This was released in 2012. It included some bug fixes and lowered the hardware requirements, so devices with 800 MHz CPU’s and 256MB of RAM could operate on the system.
- Windows 7.8. This version was released in 2013, just after Windows 8. It was intended to update older Windows devices, which were not compatible with the Windows 8 upgrade. It introduced users to the updated ‘Start screen’ which allowed people to resize the tiles and change their colour, making the display much more personalised.
- Windows 8. This version was released at the end of 2012. It was the first version to be based on the Windows NT kernel, instead of Windows CE. This version had various software updates, as well as hardware support for multi-core processors and higher resolution screens.
- Windows 8.1. This version of Windows was released in early 2014. New features included a notification centre, Internet Explorer 11, separate volume controls, and the ability to add a third row of tiles in the Start screen. It also has a voice assistant 'Cortana' which replaced the Bing search function.
Features of the Windows operating system
- Customisable design. The design of Windows 8 features customisable icons and tiles. You can choose what ‘tiles’ you would like to see, whether it be email, weather or social networks — it’s completely up to you. You can also change the size of the tiles, making the ones you use most more prominent.
- Word flow keyboard. Windows has a new ‘word flow keyboard’, which is the world's fastest smartphone keyboard. It uses shape writing, which allows you to essentially write on the screen with your finger.
- Action centre. This feature allows users to check their notifications in one quick swipe, including new emails and text messages.
- Voice assistant. 'Cortana' is the Windows audio search feature. It acts as a digital assistant, where you can search for information by speaking into the phone.
- Camera. Windows Phones have a built-in camera, which allows you to take and edit photos and videos. It has a ‘Burst’ mode, allowing the user to rapidly take photos with just one press of the button. You can also add a variety of filters and special effects to your photos.
- Internet Explorer 11. The Windows operating system features Internet Explorer 11, which is specifically designed for touchscreen. Sites also load faster and browsing is much smoother than previous versions.
- Variety of apps. With ‘Windows Store’, you’re able to access thousands of applications built specifically to be compatible with the Windows operating software, giving you more variety and diversity when it comes to using the Windows system.
Pros and cons
- Customisable tiles and icons and a simplified homescreen
- Extremely fast start-up and general operating speed
- Improved multi-monitor support, letting you run multiple apps on multiple screens without having to close any of them.
- For new users, the Windows operating system can be confusing and will need some patience to get used to
Frequently asked questions
How do I check if there is a new Windows update for my smartphone?
When a new update is available, Windows will notify you. When you receive the notification, follow these steps:
- In the App List, select Settings, and then select ‘Phone Update’.
- You can select the option to automatically update your operating system if you wish to.
- If you do not want to select automatic updates, select ‘Download’ and then ‘Install’.
How can I personalise my homescreen on my smartphone?
Personalising your smartphone can be done simply by choosing which apps and tiles you use the most, and placing them on your homescreen. You have the option to select the colour and the size of your tile, giving you more flexibility to customise your Smartphone.