Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Thursday that the software maker would release its next mobile operating system in the second half of this year.
Windows Phone 7, as the OS is known, will ship sometime in 2010, Ballmer told reporters at a news conference in New Delhi, according to the Dow Jones newswire.
Based on previous statements from the company, it's likely that smartphones based on the software will be available in time for the holiday season.
Ballmer unveiled Windows Phone 7 in February at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.
The software features a start screen that rejects static icons in favor of real-time feeds from the Internet's most popular social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as other applications. It also offers always-on access to e-mail, Xbox games, Bing search, and other tools.
Taking a page from rival Apple's playbook, Microsoft said it intends to launch an online store through which customers can purchase and download applications for Windows Phone 7 devices.
To build critical mass for Windows Phone 7 applications, Microsoft is extending tools—including its Silverlight multimedia format and XNA games language—to the new phone environment that developers already use to build apps for the Windows PC and Xbox console platforms.
Microsoft said developers who design applications or games for Windows Phone 7 will be able to leverage built-in support for cameras, microphones, location-based services, hardware-aided video, accelerometers and more.
Microsoft needs Windows Phone 7 to be a hit.
Microsoft now holds just a 6.8% share of the mobile market, down from 10.2% a year ago, according to Gartner. Worse for Redmond is that strategic rival Google is making big strides in the sector with its Android-based devices, even as Windows Mobile slumps.
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