Microsoft Talks Up Windows Phone Promotion Plans

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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 capabilities.

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

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.


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