Windows Phone 7 Release Date Nears

Speculation over when devices based on Microsoft's new mobile operating system will hit the market is heating up.
Conflicting reports emerged over the weekend concerning the official release date for the Windows Phone 7. While the reports didn't agree on timing, the blog chatter was a sign consumers won't have to wait too much longer for devices based on Microsoft's new mobile operating system.

Slideshow: Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Revealed
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"Microsoft will launch a wide range of Windows Phone 7 devices on October 21," reported bloggers at tech site Neowin, citing anonymous sources. Neowin said the release will include launch events at various sites around the world.

But bloggers at Engadget begged to differ. Engadget, citing long-time Microsoft observer Paul Thurrott, reported that Windows Phone 7 would launch Nov. 8, at least in the U.S. Based on its track record, it would be highly unusual for Microsoft to launch a major product in Europe before its U.S. debut.

Microsoft itself has yet to officially announce a release date.

Despite the conflicting reports, one thing is for certain—Microsoft is betting big on Windows Phone 7, which many analysts believe will make or break the software maker's chances of ever becoming a major player in the mobile market. The company is leaving as little to chance as possible. Redmond will reportedly spend at least $400 million to promote the platform. Confirmed hardware partners to date include Samsung, HTC, and LG.

There's also been speculation Nokia will announce a Windows Phone 7 device to market alongside its Symbian-based products. Fueling the speculation is the fact that former Microsoft exec Stephen Elop, who ran the company's Office product group, was recently tapped to become CEO of the Finnish handset maker.

When it comes to cell phones, Microsoft is still stinging from the KIN debacle.

Microsoft billed KIN as "the next generation of the social phone" in promotional materials that accompanied KIN's April 12 launch. Less than two months later, Microsoft pulled KIN from the market amid sales that were so dismal the devices—previously priced at $50 for KIN One and $100 for KIN Two—were selling for one cent on Amazon.