New York – AT&T will be first to launch Windows Phone 7
smartphones in the U.S. on Nov. 8, followed by T-Mobile in mid-November.
That will be trailed by a Sprint debut in the first half,
and sometime in 2011, by Verizon Wireless as part of Microsoft’s bid to rebuild
its smartphone market share.
The phones are part
of a worldwide launch in which nine different phones will be available this
year in more than 30 countries through more than 60 carriers, CEO Steve Ballmer
told reporters at a
U.S. consumers will get their first glimpse of a Windows
Phone 7 smartphone on Nov. 8 when AT&T’s Samsung-made Focus arrives in
AT&T stores and indirect retailers, followed “a few weeks” later by the LG
Quantum and HTC Surround, said AT&T mobility and consumer products
president/CEO Ralph de la Vega. All three are priced at $199. Two other phones
due in time for the holidays, said Microsoft, are T-Mobile’s planned HTC-made
HD7, which the carrier said is due in mid-November, and Dell’s Venue Pro,
designed for the T-Mobile network. Pricing of the T-Mobile-network phones
All AT&T and T-Mobile networks incorporate 7.2Mbps HSPA
3G data, and all but the HTC HD7 operate in foreign 2.1GHz 3G HSPA networks,
according to Microsoft-supplied information.
These phones and the
planned Sprint and Verizon phones meet Microsoft’s minimum performance
requirements, or “chassis spec,” which mandates a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor,
5-megapixel camera, 800 by 480 or better capacitive-touchscreen display,
minimum RAM and flash-memory requirements, and the like. They also feature 720p
HD video recording.
All are designed to
reverse Microsoft’s shrinking share of a smartphone market dominated by the
Apple and BlackBerry OSs and undergoing an upheaval with the proliferation of
Android-OS smartphones. The launch is “critically important for Microsoft
because computing is going mobile, and Microsoft can’t afford to cede that
market to Apple and Google,” Current Analysis research director Avi Greengart
told TWICE during the event.
To rebuild its share, corporate VP Joe Belfiore said during
the press conference, the company designed an OS to achieve two basic goals:
simplify basic operating tasks using as few taps as possible and organize
information for easy access.
As a result, all phones feature six hubs where the most
common applications and tasks are accessible and integrated.
The hubs include an Office Hub with key Microsoft
productivity applications, a games hub, a music and video hub, a pictures hub,
a people hub incorporating contacts and social-network feeds, and a marketplace
hub for downloading apps.
The OS’s Live Tiles feature displays multiple tiles on a
customizable home screen, each tile letting users see live information without
launching an app. Live information includes real-time news updates from the
Web, appointments, the number of unread emails, or friends’ status on
Other ease-of-use features include the ability to take
pictures quickly if the phone is off. Users hit the camera button, waking up
the phone so they can immediately take pictures, Belfiore said. Users can also
set the camera to automatically send each picture to a cloud-based storage
service as they are taken.
A dedicated search
button helps people find data across applications, whether in contacts, the
Microsoft Marketplace, in email or on the Web, the company also said. From the
Start screen, the search button accesses the Bing for Mobile service to deliver
Web search results, local information, maps, directions and the like.
All phones are also integrated with other Microsoft services
such as Windows Live, Xbox Live and Windows Marketplace to purchase or stream
music, and the Zune Pass subscription-based music downloading and streaming
“Two things stand
out,” said Greengart. “The way the features are implemented and integrated is
very, very different from the iPhone and Android phones,” he said. He also
cited Xbox Live integration, enabling users to view friends, avatars,
achievements and the like, but not yet enabling online multiplayer gaming via
The features will
appear first in the U.S. on AT&T’s Samsung-made Focus, a touchscreen-only
model promoted as AT&T’s thinnest Windows 7 phone, at 9.9mm thick. It
features Samsung’s proprietary Super AMOLED display, 4-inch display and 8GB of
features 3.5-inch touchscreen, slide-from-the-side QWERTY keyboard, 16GB of
included memory, and DLNA-certified Wi-Fi to stream audio and video to
DLNA-certified networked devices, including TVs. The HTC-made Surround,
promoted as a media and gaming phone, is the first smartphone in the U.S. to
include Dolby Mobile audio technology and SRS virtual surround sound, AT&T
said. It comes with slide-out stereo speakers and a kickstand for tabletop
viewing of video on its 3.6-inch screen.
The AT&T phones
are also loaded with the AT&T U-verse Mobile app, which lets users download
and watch shows available through AT&T’s U-verse residential TV service.
The app lets users search for shows available on the residential service and
download them for mobile viewing. A U-verse app will also be available in a few
days for Xbox game consoles to turn them into full-fledged U-verse receivers,
de la Vega said.
At T-Mobile, the
HTC-made HD7 will feature the largest screen on a U.S. Windows phone, at 4.3
inches when it becomes available. It will also be preloaded with Netflix,
T-Mobile TV and Slacker Radio. Netflix enables streaming of movies and TV
shows, and T-Mobile TV offers live and on-demand TV over the cellular airwaves,
including free programming from ABC News NOW, FOX Sports, PBS Kids, Azteca
America and other content providers. The device will also feature turn-by-turn
navigation via TeleNav GPS Navigator service, 16GB of internal memory and a camera
with dual LED flash.
The HTC HD7 will also be the carrier’s first device with
the T-Mobile Family Room application, which lets consumers write a note on a
virtual chalkboard and add shared calendar events for Family Room groups to
coordinate get-togethers. It also features real-time notifications to alert
users when a family member posts something for everyone to see.