Windows Phone 7: When?

It’s been six months since Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer officially announced Windows Mobile 7, now called Windows Phone 7. And now, well and truly into the second-half of the year, Microsoft’s answer to the iPhone and Google’s Android OS is still nowhere to be seen.

In the meantime Android and iOS (the iPhone operating system) are steaming ahead, leaving little, if any, market for Windows Mobile to pick up.

Android, the newcomer in the smartphone operating system market, has already trumped Windows Mobile in market share, picking up a 9.6% share of the market at the start of 2010, up from 1.2% at the start of 2009. That’s in comparison with Windows Mobile’s 6.8% share, down from 10.2% in the first quarter of 2009.

Apple’s iPhone OS is doing even better, with a rapidly-climbing 15.4% market share.

Windows Phone 7 was originally planned for release last year but delays saw Microsoft pushing out a 6.5 version which had very little in the way of new features, and very few of the promised features of Windows Mobile 7. In January Ballmer showed off Windows Phone 7 at the World Mobile Congress. And since then, nothing.

Now it seems Microsoft is setting a firm date: According to Alex Reeve, director of mobile at Microsoft, the company now has its eyes firmly set on a pre-Christmas launch. Which gives Android and iOS, and Research in Motion’s Blackberry OS, another six months to lock Windows Phone 7 out of the market.

Handsets

To date there has been little information of exactly which handset makers would produce Windows Mobile 7 phones. One of the makers most likely to release a Windows Phone 7 device is HTC. Over the years HTC has been the primary maker of Windows Mobile devices, shipping more of them than anyone else. Recently, however, the company has made one Android device after another and is now one of the primary developers of Android devices.

HTC currently has plans for three new Windows Phone 7 devices. The HTC Photon, Trophy and Tera are expected to ship in the third or fourth quarter of this year.

Sony Ericsson is also rumoured to have plans for a Windows Phone 7 device towards the end of this year. That device will be known as the Julie and is likely to feature a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. 

Samsung is also known to already have a Windows Phone 7 device. Not much is known about the phone except that it was used by Microsoft to demonstrate Windows Phone 7 at the Mix conference in March this year.

Nokia, on the other hand, is less likely than most phone makers to pursue Windows Phone 7. The company already has a significant portion of the smartphone market with its Symbian operating system – although that is dropping – as well as MeeGo-based devices and the N900 running on Maemo.

But, as the delays in releasing Windows Phone 7 continue, the chances of many manufacturers getting onboard is decreasing. The market is already saturated with a number of excellent smartphone operating systems and Microsoft’s window of opportunity to re-establish itself in the market is closing fast.

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Windows Phone 7: When?