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Microsoft previews new Windows Phone 7 platform

25 мая 2011

Microsoft Corp. showed off an upgraded version of its Windows Phone software Tuesday as the technology titan attempts to claw its way back into the smartphone business.

The Redmond, Wash., company unveiled the latest version of its mobile operating system, also known as "Mango," which features several upgrades to its user interface, with a focus on improving the communications and Internet experience as well as spur more applications. A free update is scheduled to come to existing users in the fall.

"It's certainly a very big release, and one worth waiting for," said Andy Lees, head of the company's Windows Phone division.

The upgrade marks the latest in a series of attempts by Microsoft to revitalize the smartphone platform, underscoring the importance of maintaining a presence in the area. Long dominant in the PC business, Microsoft fears losing its position among technology players as more products and services go mobile.

Once a dominant player in the smartphone business, Microsoft continued to fall in the first quarter, with its operating system capturing 3.6% of the market, or a little more than half of its share from a year ago, according to Gartner. Android was the top smartphone platform with more than a third of the market.

It shares similar concerns as Nokia Corp., which was slow to upgrade its own software and fell behind with high-end devices. Their common vision of the industry prompted a partnership between the two companies, marking the first time Nokia agreed to use an outsider's software to run its own phones. Lees said Nokia's first Windows Phones will run Mango.

The Windows Phone software, while critically praised for its unique feel, has been largely ignored as consumers continue to snap up iPhones from Apple Inc. and smartphones running on Google Inc.'s Android software. The devices have also been criticized for their lack of applications.

Mango, which Lees touts includes 500 upgrades to the operating system, is Microsoft's latest attempt to address the issue. The update takes a "people-centric" approach, according to Lees. He also talked up the phone's ability to integrate the applications deeper into the phone.

"Third-party applications have been freed from their silos," Lees said."They're part of the total experience."

Lees touted the roughly 18,000 applications now available on its Windows Phone Marketplace, modeled after similar stores offered by Apple and Google.

The update includes the ability to switch between different applications.

Microsoft also focused on improving the phone's communications abilities. Mango includes integration with Twitter, LinkedIn, and chat services from Facebook and Windows Live Messenger from the start. The phone also allows users to create groups of friends and families.

The update features Internet Explorer 9, which executives tout is faster than the competing smartphone browsers. Executives also touted a redesigned Xbox gaming hub for the phone, as well as talked about access to a cloud storage service called Skydrive.

Microsoft is making some progress with carrier partners. AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA were early supporters of the company's phones, followed by Sprint Nextel Corp. On Thursday, Verizon Wireless plans to sell its first Windows Phone device, the Trophy from HTC Corp.

Microsoft also said Asian vendors Acer Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., and ZTE Corp. would make Windows Phone devices.

Shares were recently off 3 cents to $24.15 early Tuesday. The stock is off 13% year-to-date.

Источник: Total Telecom

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