At its Windows Phone 7 launch event today, Microsoft mentioned that users will be able to sync their content to the cloud and track their devices online — now the Windows Live team has put up a blog post explaining what exactly users will be getting with the new phones.
The big takeaway? Apple should be worried, because it’s clear that Microsoft’s free offering is already more useful than Apple’s $99-a-year MobileMe service, which lets users sync mail, documents, and locate their iPhones.
“Windows Phone 7 is the first device designed from the ground up with Windows Live in mind,” wrote Microsoft VP of Windows Live engineering, Chris Jones. By entering your Windows Live ID when you set up your Windows Phone 7 device, it will automatically connect to Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive, and other Windows Live services.
The platform will use Exchange ActiveSync to bring your Hotmail messages, calendar entries, and contacts down to the phone. It also supports more than one Exchange connection, so you’ll be able to synchronize with your workplace’s Exchange server for email and calendar functionality.
Windows Phone 7 directly integrates with the new Windows Live Messenger, which has support for Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, in addition to its standard messaging capabilities. Just as you’d expect, signing on to Live Messenger on a Windows Phone 7 device will bring down the services you’ve already configured on your computer.
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You’ll be able to send your photos to Skydrive, Microsoft’s free online storage service, and also set up the phone to automatically upload all of your photos to Skydrive. Microsoft is also finally shining a bit of a spotlight on OneNote — notes that you take on your phone will be synced to your SkyDrive and will also automatically sync to your PC OneNote software.
If you lose your phone, you’ll be able to locate it online by visiting the Windows Phone Live site. The service will place your phone on a map for you to hunt down, ring your phone (even if it’s set to silent or vibrate), or lock or erase your phone if you’ve lost it for good. Apple offers a similar tracking service for MobileMe subscribers.
The combination of mail, contact, and calendar syncing with free cloud storage, and free lost phone location means that Microsoft is offering pretty much everything Apple is currently charging MobileMe users $99-a-year (or $149 for a family pack) to receive. Microsoft even offers more cloud storage than MobileMe — 25GB on SkyDrive versus MobileMe’s 20GB.
After today’s launch, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple quickly makes MobileMe free for all users — or at the very least drastically reduces its price.
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