Microsoft has launched its long-awaited re-entry into the smartphone market with Windows Phone 7, an operating system that will do battle against the likes of the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.
Speaking at a press event in New York, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, said Windows Phone 7 represents a fresh start to the company’s efforts in smartphones.Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft's long-awaited re-entry into the smartphone market. (Microsoft)
"I've been looking forward to this day for some time," said Ballmer, noting the new software would power "a very different kind of phone" from what customers are used to seeing.
"We want you to get in, get out and back to your life."
Microsoft has been supplying the underlying Windows Mobile operating system to smartphone makers such as Motorola and LG for years but has seen its market share slip to faster and slicker competitors.
Apple came charging into the fray in 2007 with its iPhone, while Google has shaken things up over the past year with its Android software. Both companies have prospered at the expense of Microsoft and Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.
In the United States, the key smartphone battleground, RIM is the market share leader, with 39.3 per cent, followed by Apple’s iPhone at 23.8 per cent, according to comScore. Android is third with 17 per cent, followed by Microsoft with 11.8 per cent.
Many analysts are saying Windows Phone 7 could make or break Microsoft’s fortunes, with smartphones representing a good portion of the future of computing and the internet.
The newly redesigned Windows operating system features a “tile” interface. Unlike most of its competitors, which use a horizontal grid-like system to display their applications, the new Windows phones organize their apps in “hubs” using a vertical scrolling interface.
Microsoft is also hoping that strong integration with its Xbox Live online video-game platform will help distinguish its phones from others on the market, particularly with younger users.
A spokesperson for Microsoft Canada said a number of Windows Phone 7 devices will be available through Canada’s big three wireless carriers on Nov. 8.
Telus will be selling the LG Optimus 7, which has a 3.8-inch touch screen, wireless media sharing through its Digital Living Network Alliance features, augmented reality and speech-to-text functions. The carrier will also have the HTC 7 Surround, which features Yamaha speakers.
Bell will have the LG Optimus Quantum, which is similar to the Telus phone but has a horizontal QWERTY keyboard.
Rogers will have the Samsung Focus, with a four-inch AMOLED touch screen.
In the U.S., the first Windows Phone 7 will be available through the AT&T network on Nov. 8 with a list price of $200 US. T-Mobile also plans a phone running the new software.
Canadian pricing has not been announced.
Anyone goin get?