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Friday, April 12, 2024

Microsoft to demo Windows Mobile 7

BARCELONA, Spain–Microsoft is expected to show off the long-awaited Windows Mobile 7 operating system for smartphones at Mobile World Congress, as the company attempts to resurrect itself in this arena and better compete against rivals Apple and Google.

The operating system will be demonstrated during Microsoft’s press conference here Monday, according to several reports. News of Microsoft’s plans to talk about Windows Mobile 7 at MWC had been reported by CNET’s Ina Fried in late January.

Details about the new operating system are still light, but The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that the user interface will look a lot the one used on Microsoft’s Zune HD music player.

Even though Microsoft retains a great deal of market share worldwide in the smartphone category, it has been slipping the past few quarters as others, such as Apple, Google, and Research In Motion, gain ground.

RIM, which makes BlackBerry devices, and Apple design both hardware and software for their handsets. Google, which has entered the mobile market with the Android software, like Microsoft, supplies software to multiple hardware makers. But Google recently launched its Nexus One, a phone built by HTC. Instead of simply supplying the software, Google has worked closely with HTC and is marketing and selling the phone itself.

Some wonder whether Microsoft will take a similar strategy with Windows Mobile 7. While it’s unlikely that Microsoft will announce a single Windows Mobile 7 smartphone, it’s clear the company is working more closely with hardware companies. The Journal reported that the company has created detailed plans for a small number of handset makers that will help them build their devices. The idea is that Microsoft is trying to limit variations in quality of Windows phones, the newspaper said. This should also make it easier for developers to write new applications for Windows phones.

Even though Microsoft isn’t expected to actually build hardware for Windows Mobile 7 phones, CNET and others have reported that Microsoft is working on designing a mobile phone for the youth market to succeed the T-Mobile Sidekick, a device that Microsoft inherited as part of its acquisition of Danger two years ago.

The Journal said the new device, code-named Pink, will not be announced at MWC. But the newspaper offered details from unnamed sources about the phone. It will be geared toward social-networking applications and will be manufactured by Japan’s Sharp. The device is expected to be sold internationally by Verizon Wireless and Vodafone Group, starting this spring.

Microsoft’s press conference will be held in Barcelona at 3 p.m. local time on Monday.

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