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WSJ: Windows Phone 7 Devices Coming 'October 11'

Microsoft will unveil a line Windows Phone 7-based smartphones on Oct. 11 and AT&T Inc. plans to sell the phones on Nov. 8, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The rollout dates were reported in today's WSJ, citing "people familiar with the launch plans." The Journal's account also indicated that there will be three products offered by AT&T, each made by a different hardware vendor. Those vendors will include HTC Corp., LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

The account, if true, provides a little more information about which Microsoft partners have progressed using Microsoft's new mobile operating system. Windows Phone 7, which supplants Windows Mobile, was announced in mid-February by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in Barcelona, Spain. At that time, Microsoft named 11 mobile operators that would carry the Windows Phone 7 line, including AT&T. Microsoft also described nine hardware partners, including HTC, LG and Samsung.

Although Microsoft confirmed earlier this month that Windows Phone 7 had been released to its manufacturing partners, it stayed quiet about identifying those partners. In July, Ballmer did confirm the three vendors mentioned by the WSJ article, predicting that they would launch Windows Phone 7 products in the fall.

Similarly, there has been little announced information about carrier plans for Windows Phone 7. Verizon won't have a phone available at the Windows Phone 7 product launch date (which hasn't been announced yet by Microsoft) because of a delay in upgrading the software to work with Verizon's CDMA networks, according to a report.

Last week, Nokia issued a denial that it would launch a Windows Phone 7-based mobile phone. Rumors swirled that Nokia might partner with Microsoft on Windows Phone 7 after Microsoft's former Business Division President, Stephen Elop, joined Nokia as president and CEO. However, most of Nokia's mobile phones are released using the Symbian operating system.

Symbian is the current mobile OS world market leader, followed by Blackberry, Android, Apple iOS and Windows Mobile, according to a study by IDC. However, IDC expects Android to move to second place by 2014.

Android is a free Linux-based mobile OS overseen by Google. However, Microsoft officials have suggested that Android might be encumbered by intellectual property concerns that might be a cost for hardware manufacturers. Microsoft even sued its mobile device-maker partner HTC over patented technologies allegedly used in HTC's Android-based devices.

Windows Phone 7 reflects new ground for Microsoft in terms of its software engineering efforts. The company has dictated some of the hardware specs needed for the new OS. In some cases, Windows Mobile phones will not be upgradable to the Windows Phone 7 OS. However, Microsoft plans to make the consumer devices attractive in the enterprise space by integrating the OS so that it can access Microsoft Office and SharePoint through company firewalls. On the consumer side, Microsoft is planning integration with its Xbox games and Bing search products.

One feature that Windows Phone 7 devices will lack is tethering, in which a mobile phone with Internet access is used to connect other devices to the Internet, such as a laptop.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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