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After scrapping Windows Mobile earlier this year, Microsoft finally launched its replacement mobile operating system on Monday, called Windows Phone 7. So, if don’t want an iPhone and don’t like the look of Android, you’ll soon have another option if you still want a smartphone.

Windows Phone 7 is a complete break with what came before, which means it can’t use the wide array of existing Windows Mobile software. Microsoft has been working with programmers to ready software for when Windows Phone 7 smartphones go on sale, but you can expect pretty slim pickings to begin with — at least compared to the thousands of apps available for the iPhone and Android.

From what we’ve seen so far, WP7 is a good deal easier to use that its predecessor and has a fat, finger-friendly design rather than require a stylus to poke tiny on-screen buttons. We’re still a little dubious about how the simplified interface will work once there a few dozen apps installed, and much of the emphasis so far seems to be on games and social media rather than the more serious uses that Windows Mobile specialised in. Still, it’s early days yet.

Windows Phone 7 smartphones will be on sale in the UK from 21 October and a number of manufacturers have already unveiled their first models. Practical Caravan’s sister gadget mag, Stuff, has a hands-on report of one the first — the HTC HD7 — and you can read its report of the Monday launch, too.

Finally, here’s Microsoft’s TV ad for Windows Phone 7. We’re not sure that telling people to spend less time with their phones is the best way to sell a new phone, but Microsoft must know what’s doing, right..?

[Windows Phone 7]