New Windows phones expected to arrive soon

Microsoft is planning to rev up the mobility market under its Windows phone brand.

The company initially launched a Windows phone campaign back in October, when it announced that various manufacturing partners were building mobile phones using the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system. Those efforts will soon bear fruit, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

The new mobile offerings may mark a departure of sorts for the company. Microsoft's mobile strategy has been somewhat stagnant since it entered the market in 2000, according to Matt Rosoff, vice president of research at Directions on Microsoft.

"The Microsoft mobility story is one of tragically missed opportunities," Rosoff said in a telephone interview. "They started off competing well with Palm Pilot in the beginning, but they were slow to evolve. Then, when Apple introduced the iPhone in the consumer market, it literally took them by surprise."

Microsoft has been playing catch-up ever since, according to Rosoff.

For its part, Microsoft is sticking with its traditional platform approach, offering software that can run on a variety of phones and across numerous service provider networks.

The company already announced several Windows phone components in October, including an Office Mobile 2010 beta, a new My Phone app for backup and sharing files, and an online source for mobile apps called Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

"They don't want to be in that [phone hardware] business," said Rosoff, who added that the new branding element, Windows phone, will apply to a range of device makers, but will carry a distinctive user interface that will correlate with other Windows offerings.

"They are coming off a huge missed opportunity, which is the consumer side of the smart-phone market," said Rosoff. "I think we will see some major improvements [in their mobile offerings] next year when Windows Mobile 7 is introduced."

He noted improvements in Microsoft's Zune being incorporated into Windows phones as well as some gaming elements. Both will help compete against leaders such as Apple and Google.

Rosoff said that the smart-phone market does not have room for five or six major players. If Microsoft is going to succeed it will have to be in the top three, he added.


About the Author

Herb Torrens is a freelance writer based in Southern California.

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