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Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7, But Will it Dial Success?



It’s been a long time coming, but Microsoft has finally unveiled its Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. In production for two years, Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s biggest push into the mobile market after a series of gaffes like the 48-day life-span Kin phones.

The nine phones that will run the OS will first be available on AT&T starting 8 November, but will expand to T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint later. LG, Samsung, HTC and Dell will be the first to offer the hardware, some of which feature touchscreens and others, a tangible keyboard.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, was quick to distinguish his product from others, particularly in its UI. Unlike the app-focused interface we’re familiar with in Android and iOS phones, Windows Phone 7 has active and configurable ‘tiles’—each one pointing an entire category like social networks and messaging—that update on the fly.

Other Microsoft properties like Zune, Xbox and Office will also be integrated into the new OS.

According to Reuters, Microsoft is planning to spend more than US$100 million marketing the phones, an indication of the software company’s eagerness to battle the top three platforms in the US: Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, Apple’s iPhone, and Google’s Android, respectively. But this won’t be easy.

Jason Maynard, an analyst with Wells Fargo, told Reuters: “We are the first to admit that Microsoft is fighting for third place, not first or even second, at this point.”

One thing Microsoft would need is a robust app store. While it is planning a whole marketplace for its new platform, hard figures of exactly how many developers and apps will be made available were not given.

Nick Bilton for The New York Times wrote: “They [mobile app developers] already struggle with trying to decide which platforms to focus on, primarily the iPhone and Android operating systems.”

Granted, Microsoft would need time to build up the app momentum; after all, it is a “completely fresh start for Microsoft in smartphones”, the company said in a statement. But the question remains: with other platforms so far ahead in the game, has time already run out for the software giant?







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