Well, it took Microsoft long enough. The company never leveraged its various services across its products like, say, the way every Apple product wants you to have iTunes. Finally — finally! — Microsoft is officially stamping its identity here.
Microsoft isn't a slouch when it comes to its hardware division. The company has an OS that's on a million billion different phones. It's got the Zune for music and the Xbox line for gaming. Windows is on more computers than any other OS, and its still preferred for certain things, such as playing games.
Now, not only will your Windows Phone 7 leverage the Xbox 360's hold on gamers with its addictive, achievement-based gamer profiles, but it'll be bringing Xbox Live games to the phones. In a way, this is Microsoft's attempt to sneak a gaming handheld onto the market without having to actually brand it as such, whereas Nintendo and Sony are duking it out with their DS line and PSPs, respectively.
Windows Phone 7 will have access to 60 games at launch, ranging from brand new titles to ones that take place in franchises familiar to Xbox gamers, including titles such as Halo and Crackdown. They'll also have access to those aforementioned Xbox Live profiles, meaning that your avatar — and the ability to play dress-up and simple games with it — will join you fully rendered on the phone.
It's good to see Windows Phone 7 finally incorporating some Microsoft-exclusive features that could come into play when consumers go to the shelves. As someone who plays a lot of games, for instance, I may be more inclined to pick one up and skip over an iPhone, as I could be boosting my gamerscore while taking the bus instead of twiddling around on the net.
Check out a video of Live on the phone in action, courtesy Engadget.