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10/26/2010 10:50 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Windows Phone 7 REVIEW ROUNDUP: Critics On Microsoft's 'Aggressively Different' Operating System (PHOTOS)

Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 doesn't look like any operating system you've seen before, which is a very, very good thing.

The phone's homescreen is comprised of colorful, square tiles representing apps, contacts, and other tools. Subtly animated, they're eye-catching, intuitive, and easy to engage with. I pulled out the phone while at dinner with a group of non-techie friends, and although their eyes glazed over at the words "Windows Phone 7," the candy-colored homescreen and responsive touchscreen got everyone interested, and the phone was passed around until all had flicked through the column of chunky tiles.

With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has gotten our attention.

Microsoft is betting big on its new mobile operating system and it needs to: the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Google's Android OS are dominating the mobile landscape, while Microsoft is late to the game. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who saw his bonus docked over mobile missteps, admitted earlier this year, "We missed a cycle."

As the reviews below attest, whether Microsoft can still win in mobile, and whether Windows Phone 7 can take on rivals, is unclear. Although the operating system has been called "straight-up beautiful," "outstanding," and "aggressively different," it's missing some key features and is belatedly entering into a crowded playing field. But at least we're watching.

Read reviews of Windows Phone 7 from Engadget, All Things Digital, MobileCrunch, Gizmodo, and more in the slideshow below. Learn more about Windows Phone 7's release date and availability, then share your thoughts of Windows Phone 7 in the comments.