Microsoft Launches Windows Phone 7

By Cindy Waxer October 12, 2010

Bye, bye, Windows Mobile. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is the company’s latest attempt to regain traction in the burgeoning smartphone software market.

Among the first smartphones to feature Windows Phone 7 is the Samsung Focus. Consumers can purchase the device from AT&T stores starting November 8 for $200 with a two-year contract requirement, according to Microsoft. Following this, two more phones for AT&T, manufactured by LG Electronics and HTC Corp., and one for T-Mobile USA, will enter the market. In total, nine new Windows Phone 7 handsets that will be available this holiday season from mobile operators in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. 

Many industry watchers believe that the Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s last chance to establish a toehold in the smartphone software landscape. In fact, according to research firm Gartner, Google’s Android platform will challenge Nokia’s Symbian software to become the most dominant operating system on smartphones by 2014. Android’s global market share in the handset market is expected to rise from 4 percent in 2009 to nearly 30 percent over the next four years, Gartner predicts, while the Symbian platform will see its share of the market fall from 40 percent in 2010 to slightly over 30 percent in 2014.

As for Microsoft’s older system, Windows Mobile, in the most recent quarter, the operating system accounted for just 5 percent of the worldwide smart phone market. That compares with 18 percent for Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry phones and 14 percent for the iPhone, according to Gartner.

No wonder Microsoft is banking on a handful of new features to pay catch-up with competitors. These include a customizable Start screen with Live Tiles that, according to Microsoft’s website, “is a personal experience, showing people their own content. The Live Tiles come to life with real-time updates from the Web such as news, appointments or the status of friends. New Live Tiles can be easily created from whatever content a consumer wants, such as applications, websites and music.”

Other key features include a social gaming network with links to Xbox LIVE.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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