Definition

Windows Phone

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Complete guide to Windows 10 mobile features, apps and devices

Windows Phone is Microsoft's smartphone operating system and a brand for the numerous hardware designs that run on it.

Windows Phone uses a Metro-derived user interface (UI), closely reflecting and relying on the tile-like interface introduced with the desktop systems. The phone’s home screen resembles a desktop’s start menu. To find and download apps, music, videos and podcasts, users can go to the Windows Phone marketplace.

Windows Phone features include:

  • Cortana, a virtual assistant that originated in the Halo video game, Microsoft’s counterpart to Apple’s Siri.
  • Integration with Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business and Office 365 for enterprise environments. 
  • Threaded messaging.
  • Outlook Mobile for email access, with support for multiple email services.
  • Internet Explorer (IE).
  • The Hub, a feature that coordinates personal and online content.  For example, the People Hub for social media connectivity and interconnectivity and the Games Hub for XBox Live.
  • Voice recognition software.
  • Bing search engine.

Windows Phone competes mainly with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android in the smartphone market. Most Windows Phone hardware is produced by Nokia, and phones produced under the Lumina name are produced by Nokia regardless of whether they sport Nokia or Microsoft branding. Other manufacturers of Windows Phones include Acer and BLU.

Windows Phone OS replaced Windows Mobile OS and follows the name scheme of the current Windows desktop operating systems -- Windows Phone 7, 8 and 8.1, for example. In its turn, Windows 10 Mobile replaces Windows Phone.

This was last updated in August 2015

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