Anticipation has been building up like a typhoon off shore ever since its launch was announced way back in February. Now Windows Phone 7 is finally here, ready to blow us away.

HTC, Samsung and LG all have handsets ready to go, and the OS actually looks good enough to put Microsoft shoulder-to-shoulder with Apple iOS and Google Android – or at least at their elbow.

Let's take a look at what the first ever WP7 phones have to offer.

All the phones sport impressive specs, because they have to. Microsoft has specified that all WP7 handsets must have a 1GHz processor, 256MB of RAM, 4GB flash storage, a capacitive touch screen, five sensors – accelerometer, A-GPS, compass, proximity and light sensors, and a 5-meg camera.

Best of the lot

Arguably the pick of the bunch is the HTC HD7, with a massive 4.3-inch, 800x480 resolution screen that's crying out for movies and games to play on it.

It even has a kickstand on the back for propping it on the table for prolonged viewing. Also around the back, you'll find the requisite five-meg camera with added autofocus, dual LED flash, 720p video recording and various auto modes.

Music-oriented

The HTC Mozart 7, as the name suggests, is more music-oriented. It has SRS WOW virtual surround sound on top of a 3.7-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera – obviously Mozart was also a keen photographer.

It's testament to how far ahead WP7 is of the late, unlamented Windows Mobile as this is the first HTC phone to run a Windows OS without the disguise of a Sense interface.

Make it first!

LG's Optimus 7 will possibly be the first WP7 handset to land in India. It has a neat, gimmicky augmented reality mode built into its video camera. Point it at your surroundings and it'll overlay points of interest or provide a weather forecast.

It also has a ‘Play To' feature - basically DLNA sharing - which lets you send video, music and photos to your compatible TV or stereo.

Silvery screen

Samsung's offering is the Omnia 7, proud owner of the best screen of the bunch, a 4-inch Super AMOLED. It also contains 16GB of storage, the same 1GHz Qualcomm processor as the HTC handsets and 720p video recording.

It's a very solid start for Microsoft, with the quality of the third-party hardware matching the promise of its sparkling OS.

Other highlights of WP7 include live, constantly updating tiles on your home screen, Xbox Live games on the go – albeit scaled-down versions – and the Zune media player.

Two omissions do glare - no multitasking and no cut and paste - although these are promised to arrive by “late 2011”.

With a slick OS capable of taking on Apple and Android and high-‘spec'ed, good-looking handsets, Microsoft is back in the mobile game. With support from app developers, WP7 should really fly in 2011.

7 top tips for Windows Phone 7

1. If your phone is locked, just press and hold the camera button to take a picture without having to unlock

2. Press and hold the Start button and speak your commands to make calls, search the web and open apps

3. To delete multiple emails, just tap next to any message in your inbox to display check boxes and delete at will

4. Tap a misspelled word to see suggestions from the built-in dictionary, iPhone-style

5. Give any icon an extended press to reveal hidden menus – just like right clicking on your PC

6. In the People menu, tapping a block letter lets you jump to contacts in that section of the alphabet

7. In Music + Videos, just hit the Play icon to listen to your music collection on shuffle

Highlights

1. HTC HD7

The biggest WP7 handset has a 4.3-inch screen, same as the HD2. There's also a stand on the back for hands-free viewing

2. LG Optimus 7

Also known as the E900, LG rates augmented reality as a key selling point of the Optimus 7

3. HTC Mozart 7

Features an 8-meg camera as well as SRS WOW tech that provides virtual surround audio

4. Samsung Omnia 7

Has the brightest screen of the bunch, a four-inch Super AMOLED similar to the Samsung Galaxy S

(This material is translated or reproduced from T3 magazine and is the copyright of or licensed to Future Publishing Limited, a Future plc group company, UK 2010. Used under license. All rights reserved.)