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Microsoft Talks Up Windows Phone Promotion Plans

Barcelona, Spain – Terry Myerson,
corporate VP of Microsoft’s Windows Phone division, went to the Mobile World
Congress to talk up the company’s plan to ramp up its marketing efforts “in the
coming months” to “rebuild the Windows Phone brand with consumers.”

During a financial analysts’
briefing here, he also said the company would carefully manage expectations
about any next-generation Windows OS for smartphones, but he declined to say
when a Windows Phone 8 OS would be available.

Myerson also dissed the OS-upgrade
strategies of Apple and Android.

When asked by an audience member
whether the next-generation Windows Phone OS would be backward-compatible with
existing Windows Phone 7 smartphones, Myerson called consumer expectations
about OS upgrades a potential landmine.

“Statistically speaking, no
Android phones get upgraded. None. Ever. They have big bugs. They don’t even
get patched,” he said. In Apple’s case, “they ship the OS updates to hardware
that make it [the hardware] unusable. It’s a great hardware sales tool as far
as I can tell. Install this OS that makes your hardware unusably slow, so then
you feel compelled to go back to the store and buy a new piece of hardware.”

When Microsoft unveils a next-gen
phone OS, he said, the company will be “very clear” about its backward-compatibility

He also said the company’s goal
is to enable all existing Windows Phone 7 apps to run on future Windows Phone 8

In speaking about plans to
improve Windows Phone sell-through, Myerson noted that the company has
“historically invested our marketing efforts through partner marketing,” and
although the company won’t abandon that, “our emphasis in the phone space will
be on consumer marketing … to rebuild the Windows Phone brand with consumers.”

When one audience member said
Windows Phone marketing efforts seemed slow and timid compared to Android and
Apple marketing, Myerson said it “takes time to build up speed.”

 The company “is unfortunately changing our
marketing approach,” he said, “and picking up speed is going to take a little
time, and I am not talking about time in years. I’m talking time in months.
We’re focused on marketing.”

As consumer marketing efforts
kick in to spread the word about Windows Phone advantages, he added, it will
“create more incentives for them [handset makers] to invest in Windows Phone.”

In a separate announcement,
Microsoft said a beta version of Skype for Windows Phone is finally available,
and the full-featured version will be available sometime later this year. It
features Skype-to-Skype audio and video calling, affordable calls to landlines,
and mobile with Skype Credit, and IM.