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Microsoft Debuts My Phone, Marketplace For Phones

Barcelona, Spain — Microsoft unveiled a new Windows Mobile 6.5 platform to be available on HTC, LG and other smartphones that lets users sync their phone data to the Web for storage and that also permits downloads from a new Windows Marketplace.

The My Phone feature lets users back up their phones to the Web with automatic syncing, so text messages, photos, video, contacts and appointments can be edited on the Web and then downloaded to any number of devices. The feature carries no extra fee and is expected to prove useful as 12 million phones are lost each year, and 77 percent of photos stored on a phone never leave the phone, said Microsoft during Mobile World Congress.

The new Windows Marketplace for Mobile will let users browse and purchase applications. More than 20,000 of apps for Windows Mobile phones, now renamed “Windows phones,” may be placed in the new Marketplace at the choosing of the developers.

HTC will deliver two of the first phones running Windows Mobile 6.5, including the Touch Pro2 slated for the U.S. this summer and the Touch Diamond2 due for the U.S. later this year. They feature Push Internet and new single contact views that show the full history of communication with a contact, whether that is voice, text or email. They also have improved TouchFLO 3-D touch-sensitive screens with finger-swipe navigation and a Straight Talk feature that combines voice, email and speakerphone modes so users can transition seamlessly from email to multiparty conference calls.

The Diamond2 is similar to the current Touch Diamond but adds a larger 3.2-inch VGA screen and a new touch-sensitive zoom bar for faster navigation of Web pages, emails, etc. Battery life has been improved by 50 percent and the smartphone now includes a 5-megapixel camera, expandable memory, gravity sensor and ambient light sensor.

The Touch Pro2 is aimed at business professionals and includes similar features to the Diamond2, plus a 3.6-inch screen, QWERTY keyboard and proximity sensor. Current owners of HTC Touch Diamond and Touch Pro phones may upgrade at no fee to the new Windows Mobile 6.5 OS later this year.

LG also announced a new GL-GM7300 phone with one-click email setup that will run on Windows Mobile 6.1 initially with a 6.5 OS version to follow.

Finally, Microsoft also announced a new feature called Microsoft Recite, a voice search technology for version 6.0 or later phones using voice control. Users can capture, search and retrieve spoken note and reminders using their voice, without the need to navigate through menus.