Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7 Devices

By: By David Goldman, CNN staff writer
By: By David Goldman, CNN staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Microsoft on Monday unveiled its plan to battle the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry smartphones with its new Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system.

At a press event in New York, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that Windows Phone 7 smartphones would be available in the United States on AT&T's network. Microsoft also announced partnerships with Samsung, LG and HTC, which will make devices to run the new smartphone software.

Microsoft said that Samsung's phone, called the Focus, will be available on November 8 and that the Surround from HTC and Quantum from LG would be in stores in time for the holidays. All three phones will cost $199.99.

The software giant has struggled to sell smartphones since Apple's iPhone and Google's Android came storming onto the scene in the past few years. Windows Mobile commands less than 11% of the U.S. smartphone market, down from nearly 20% at the same time last year, according to comScore.

Over the past several years, many consumers thought that Windows Mobile began to feel increasingly outdated, both in the software itself and the phones that ran it, compared to its suddenly more successful rivals.

As a result, Microsoft opted to scrap its mobile operating system entirely, giving it a new name, a unique look and some compelling features that differentiate it from the competition.

Rather than produce another user interface that displays a series of small icons to help users launch applications, Windows Phone 7 uses large, dynamic tiles that the company claims are both intuitive to use and easy to navigate.

Social networking is baked into the OS. Windows Phone 7 will also give users the ability to take their Xbox Live accounts on the go for both games and media. And the company is promising top-notch support for Microsoft Outlook and Exchange -- which should make corporate IT departments very happy.

But Microsoft has a lot of ground to make up against its rivals. Research in Motion's BlackBerry now has more than triple the market share of Microsoft, and the iPhone and Android are both twice as big.

To succeed, Microsoft will have to convince potential customers that its unique offerings are compelling enough to pass up an iPhone, an Android phone or even a BlackBerry.

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