Like everything else in Windows Phone 7, the home screen has nothing to do with what was found in Windows Mobile. Well, maybe WM 6.5 had a similar idea, but that's as far as it gets. At first, you may think that the home screen is too simplistic, but it actually consists of the so called Live Tiles, which start to play image slideshows or display other relevant content as soon as you start using your phone. And this literally brings your home screen to life. We even think this concept could have been taken a step further, but this might happen through future updates or manufacturer customizations as well.
Your Live Tiles are arranged in a vertical list, with some tiles taking up twice the space of ordinary tiles. Scrolling up and down the list is so responsive and fun, that you can even fail to notice the fact that about a fourth of your screen real estate is left empty. That's a fact that seemed very strange to us at first, but we assure you – it actually doesn't matter. All the needed information is displayed inside the Live Tiles. The sweet part is that you can customize your home screen so that it contains only what is important to you. Rearranging tiles is very intuitive - you only have to tap and hold a tile and then drag it to the desired position.
When you swipe to the left, or click on the arrow residing in the upper part of the said blank area, you get to what can be referred here as the main menu. It consists of a vertical list of your apps and hubs. Although that we rarely had to use it, this is the place where you'll find your third-party applications. Of course, you can choose whatever you want from this list and take it to the home screen.
While it is obvious that Windows Phone 7 has a pretty simplistic interface, we have to note that the OS feels extremely polished when it comes to animated transitions and other eye-catching goodies. For example, almost all tiles you'll encounter (live and not live) act as 3D surfaces that tilt just slightly in the direction to the area in which you press them. For instance, if you touch a tile in its upper right corner, it slightly tilts towards that direction. It is a very cool touch to say the least, which makes the platform feel finished.
Eye-candy aside, let's turn our attention to the functional side of Microsoft Windows Phone 7. A pretty good place to start is the People Hub, which, as you might guess, plays the role of a phonebook. Indeed, we would not be wrong if we think of the People Hub as a very advanced phonebook. It is similar to HTC Sense's contacts app in Android (in terms of capabilities), but what makes WP7's one different is the style and presentation. First, you naturally have a list with your contacts. In addition to your SIM and phone contacts, here you can also integrate contacts from Facebook, Windows Live, Outlook or Google. Fortunately, Facebook contacts automatically get their profile pictures assigned to make your phonebook a bit more colorful and enjoyable.
Choose a certain contact, and you will be provided with options to call, text, send email, find on map, and write on wall (if it's linked to a Facebook account). Swiping to the left will show you what is new with this contact, with the info coming straight from Facebook. If you want to have ultra-quick access to a certain contact, you can "pin" it to the home screen. Adding a contact, on the other hand, is done by pressing the plus button located on top of the phonebook list. Then you can very easily add/choose a photo and fill in all the needed details about this person. You can enter a lot of info about a contact, but the available options are not as great as they were in Windows Mobile. Anyway, we doubt that someone would actually miss the option of storing the names of the children of the assistant of your contact.
Finding a contact is a pretty easy stuff and can be done in two ways. The first one is by clicking on some of the letter tiles in the phonebook list (they serve for better organization of the alphabetical order). Upon clicking some of those, you are presented with an a, b, c... set of keys, which contains the first letters of your contacts' names. This is a search method common to GPS units and is also found in Nokia's touchscreen phones. The other way is by clicking the search key, which lets you search for first or last name by typing.
While in the main People Hub view, a swipe to the left will take you to your Facebook news (in case you've linked your account). Another swipe will let you see the recent contacts you've called/viewed/texted.
As a whole, we appreciate the integration with Facebook, as it provides the user with some deep functionality and at the same time doesn't clutter the interface.