Microsoft has unveiled its plan to
battle the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry smart phones with its new Windows
Phone 7 mobile operating system.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the
Windows Phone 7 smart phones would be available in the United States on
Microsoft also announced
partnerships with Samsung, LG and HTC, which will make devices to run the new
smart phone software.
Samsung’s phone, called the Focus,
will be available on 8 November, and the Surround from HTC and Quantum from LG
would be in stores in time for the holidays, Microsoft said. All three phones
will cost $199.99.
The Windows Phone 7 line-up will
eventually include nine phone models available in 30 countries, Ballmer said.
“It’s a different kind of phone,”
he said. “It gets you in, gets you out, and back to life as fast as humanly
Instead of the typical smart phone
user interface — a series of small icons to launch applications — Windows Phone
7 uses large, dynamic tiles that Microsoft hopes will be both intuitive to use
and easy to navigate.
Social networking is baked in, with
a “people hub” that tracks updates across a user’s contact list. A camera
button wakes the phone into shooting mode quickly, so that it is able to almost
instantly begin snapping photos. Games are a focus: Xbox Live players can take
their accounts on the go, and Electronic Arts is a launch partner, bringing the
Sims game to the phones.
Windows Phone 7 integrates deeply
with other Microsoft products. Notes taken on phone with OneNote automatically
sync to the cloud with Office Live. Along with top-notch support for Microsoft
Outlook and Exchange — which should make corporate IT departments very happy —
the phones offer a spell check that automatically underlines misspelled words
with the red squiggly line familiar to Word users.
But one feature was noticeably
missing at launch: copy/paste. Microsoft didn’t put that in the original code
because it didn’t think it would be needed, thanks to auto-links between applications,
a company executive said. But developers demanded it, and Microsoft plans to
add it in an update in early 2011.