Microsoft will today announce that the first batch of devices to carry the Windows Phone brand – incorporating the firm’s new Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system (OS) and its Windows Marketplace application store – are ready to hit the market. Several handset vendors have already pledged their support, including HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Acer, and Microsoft has said to expect more than 30 phones running the new OS by year’s end. Operators such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Orange, NTT Docomo, Vodafone and T-Mobile are also on board. Microsoft’s new offering is expected to include integrated search using its new search engine Bing (a rival to Google), as well as Windows Marketplace for Mobile, a service similar to the iPhone’s App Store that will allow users to download software and applications to their device. Over 250 applications are expected to be available at launch.
Microsoft’s new mobile offering is a much-needed move in light of recent strong competition from Google’s Android platform and Apple’s iPhone operating system. However, analysts are already concerned that the move will not be enough and that the company’s current mobile shortcomings are only likely to be addressed in version 7 of the platform, not expected for release until next year.