Review: Windows Phone 7

Live tilesThis is a continuation from my previous hardware review of my Samsung Omnia 7

Windows Phone 7 (WP7) is Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating system (OS) for smartphones. They have left behind a long legacy of Windows Mobile code (stopping at v6.5) and built a new OS from the foundation of their Zune mp3 player. Transitioning an mp3 player into a phone sound like a familiar idea? Well it’s no secret that this is Microsoft’s final chance to regain some of the market that Apple swept away from them. Their slow response to change, or innovate, also led to Google’s Android OS get a strong foothold in the market as well as a loyal following. So, has Microsoft done enough to sway the tide? Check out my review below to see if I think it has.

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Simple but effective wallpapers for your desktop & phone


I used to regularly check InterfaceLIFT for wallpapers (a.k.a. desktop backgrounds). It has some great quality photographs on there and most are available to download in pre-set sizes from an iPhone to a widescreen 2560X1600. They have an ever-growing selection on the official Windows 7 site too, from single wallpapers to full blown themes. Recently, however, I have been craving the simple things in life. I love it when amazing gadgets that can do incredible things are able to look simple and understated (probably why the iPod became so popular). Thankfully, I have found the site Simple Desktops.

Simple Desktops: a collection of bling, drop shadow, and gradient free desktops to help keep you stay focused but also provide just enough eye candy to not be bored. It’s here because finding these around the web is just too hard.

Attribution for the images is given to their creator, but it doesn’t extend onto your personal desktop. They look great on the desktop and lot’s of them also work really well on the Windows Welcome/Lock screen (You can modify that by using the Tweaks Logon app).

I have created a nice selection of them for my WP7 Omnia 7. It’s currently rocking “Lighty” (seen above) by flickr user Deibo. The bulb looks great on the AMOLED screen, it has a very realistic glow. The best way to get it on the device is to do the following

  1. Download the image from Simple Desktops
  2. Open it in an graphics programme (I use Paint.Net)
  3. Resize or crop the image to fit your devices screen size
    1. Set the Selection tool to “Fixed” with a size of 480×800 pixels (for the Omnia 7)
    2. Move the selection marquee around until you are happy
    3. Hit the Crop button
    4. Save as a PNG
  4. Email the picture as an attachment (you can only transfer JPGs with Zune)
  5. Open it on the device and choose “Use as Wallpaper”

Other Sources

  • The Desktop Wallpaper Project is another one but a bit too “busy” for phones”.
  • I also just found (thanks to the My Kind of Phone blog) about GelaSkins. These are custom made stickers that are a perfect fit to your phone, laptop, game console. They have a couple of Windows 7 Phones there as well but you can download any of the designs as a wallpaper for free! Check out the Omnia 7 gallery.

Have you found any other great sources for modern wallpapers? Let me know in the comments

p.s. don’t you just hate it when people call them screensavers. Drives me wild Angry smile. A screensaver is what you computer displays when the computer is idle, not what you see all the time behind your icons!!! I generally frown upon screensavers anyway as it’s much more power-friendly to just have the monitor switch off.

Zune – The iTunes alternative

Update: Zune is dead 😦

Well it’s actually regenerated into Xbox Music. A lot of the content on here is still valid but the links may not work. Go to for full details

Don’t you just hate the fact that sometimes you need to install bloated, slow iTunes to download and organise your music collection? Well stress no more, coinciding with the release of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft have opened up Zune to international waters.

Zune goes where you go. Whether on your PC, Xbox 360, or Windows Phone 7 you can enjoy, discover, and share your entertainment anytime you want.

What’s a Zune?

The Zune software is a media player, originally designed to manage Microsoft’s own mp3 player (iPod competitor) the Zune. You would use the Zune app to sync your music to your device or download new music from the online marketplace. It is very similar in functionality to how iTunes works with iPods. However, it differs dramatically in it’s design. You can’t help but be impressed with how the software works. I installed it a couple of years ago, even though I didn’t have a Zune (as I’m in the UK) purely because it looks so good. I could also use it to download podcasts so I could sync them with my generic mp3 player.

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