Windows Phone 7 Could Be Touchscreen Only

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft looks set to severely restrict the range of phone designs compatible with the forthcoming Windows Phone 7 series. Right now, it appears there will be just three basic styles of handset with the new system.

A recent podcast featured two members of Microsoft's Australian division discussing plans to restrict manufacturers to three different chassis, the basic physical design of the phone.

Three Windows Phone 7 Chassis Classes

The first design will be for touchscreen phones and includes some very specific requirements: a 800x480 pixel screen, an accelerometer, a 5 megapixel radio, a 1 GHz processor, a dedicated graphics processor, a GPS facility and an FM radio with a standard headphone jack. That's likely to make it very tough for different firms to offer unique handsets: theoretically, they could exceed these specifications, but that would likely mean an expensive handset. (Source:

The second permissible chassis would be much the same as the first, requiring a touchscreen, but adding a slide-out keyboard.

The third chassis wasn't as closely detailed though it appears to be a so-called "candy bar" phone: an old-style rectangular handset with physical number keys. It's not clear if this third chassis would also require some form of touchscreen control.

The new standards appear to rule out several popular types of phone design, most notably clamshell or "flip" handsets.

Microsoft Specifications for Windows Phone 7

So, why are there such limitations set for the Windows 7 Phone design?

It could be that Microsoft wants to streamline the range of handset styles, making it much easier for application developers to produce apps that perform well on all devices. If it is the case that all Windows Phone 7 devices must have a touchscreen, developers will know an app designed for such an input will be suitable for all users. (Source:

It also appears that by bringing in such firm specifications, Microsoft wants to avoid having the system run on low-quality handsets. Having the system under-perform might result in users to blaming Microsoft, rather than the phone's hardware capabilities.

Microsoft Not Entering Handset Business

These reports appear to clear up previous rumors that Microsoft was planning to follow Apple's lead and produce its own, Zune-based mobile phone handsets.

It now appears that specifications leaks for such a handset instead referred to one of the three designs outlined for manufacturers.

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