It's been rather quiet on the Microsoft mobile frontline since the MIX10 conference as the impending launch of Windows Phone 7 later this year draws ever closer. But the company broke the silence in the last couple of days revealing to Pocket-lint that the manufacturing launch partners preparing handsets ready for D-Day are Asus, Dell, HTC, LG, and Samsung.
Although we knew of a few of these earlier, such as Dell with its leaked Lightning handset, this is an impressive line-up and we can assume there will be at least five WP7 devices to choose from on launch day. Microsoft has also confirmed that the entire WP7 launch line-up will have a full touchscreen experience, with a few models also including a hardware QWERTY keyboard. The Samsung device running the new OS shown on the right is actually a prototype intended for use by developers, with it not slated for release and Samsung's actual WP7 phone likely to be different.
Microsoft also spoke of its aim of making WP7 devices available to as wide an audience as possible without network exclusivity deals in countries and its targets of quickly surpassing competing OSs such as HP/Palm's webOS, MeeGo, Symbian, and Samsung's Bada to join the ranks of Apple's iOS, Google Android, and Blackberry in the top four. The fighting talk continued with Greg Sullivan, senior product manager for MS, advocating how WP7 combines the best elements of iOS and Android in a wide range of device form factors from its manufacturing partners and a universal app ecosystem for compatibility across the board, taking a dig at the current state of version fragmentation in Android. Interestingly, when asked whether he hoped WP7 smartphones would make iPhone and Android users switch sides, Sullivan stated he was not concerned with the issue of getting users to switch, instead stating that WP7 will win over a new wave of smartphone users to be successful, perhaps referencing the accelerating rapid rate of growth of the entire smartphone market. No new hints on the actual launch date were dropped apart from that we can expect to see WP7 smartphones on the shelves by the holidays.
What are your latest thoughts on Windows Phone 7? With an impressive line-up of manufacturing partners for launch and the minimum hardware requirements set at a competitive level, I think the devices should definitely be good in terms of hardware. But will the new OS meet expectations in the face of upgraded stalwarts like iOS4 and Android 2.2? And how will it compare to the upcoming Blackberry OS6 and other newcomers such as MeeGo and Symbian^3?