Microsoft will still give "premium partner" AT&T top billing at next week's mobile operating system launch.
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Microsoft's Windows 7 Revealed
Microsoft's plan to debut its Windows Phone 7 operating system next week exclusively with AT&T has been altered, with T-Mobile USA's announcement that it will launch Windows Phone 7-powered HTC phones also on October 11.
In recent days, the Federal Communications Commission has approved HTC devices with GSM and its successor WCDMA standards. HTC has been working with Microsoft for months on handsets for the new Phone 7 operating system. The first official acknowledgement from T-Mobile that it would participate in the Microsoft event came in a statement from T-Mobile this week: "T-Mobile has indicated support for Windows Phone 7 and will announce details of our Windows Phone 7 offering on Oct. 11."
Microsoft needs all the help it can get. It has undergone a relentless market-share decline in its mobile business. AT&T, which was knighted by Microsoft in February as its "premium partner" for the upgraded mobile operating system, is slated to get top billing at the Microsoft launch. T-Mobile will debut its HTC phone -- or phones -- in a scaled down event later in the day. AT&T is likely to offer three devices.
Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, whose infrastructures use the CDMA standard (non-compatible with GSM) aren't expect to have W7P handsets until next year.
In Europe, as many as five carriers are scheduled to participate in the Windows 7 Phone debut. Preliminary specs bandied around for most of the phones indicate Microsoft will get cutting-edge devices, but, as yet, no exciting or compelling feature has emerged from the underground grapevine that could frighten Apple with its iPhone or Google with its Android lineup of phones.
Microsoft's traditional strength has been in linking its software -- like mobile office features -- to its Windows devices and that approach could be a strong selling point for many consumers in the new phones.
Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer will lead the presentation Oct. 11 and the pressure will be on him to introduce an antidote to the iPhone and Android phones' success. "We've got to look forward," Ballmer told the Wall Street Journal this week. "The market (mobile phones) is still pretty nascent."
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