The first mobile phones based on Windows Phone 7.5, the "Mango" release of the mobile operating system, are hitting the market. And Microsoft is making sure everyone knows about it.
On Monday, Microsoft said the Samsung Focus S and Samsung Focus Flash are now available through AT&T while the HTC Radar 4G is available from T-Mobile USA. The new devices were unveiled in a press event in New York City that included a 55-foot phone mockup in Herald Square.
Windows Phone 7.5 is also available as a free upgrade for current owners of smartphones that run on Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft lags rivals Apple and Google in the mobile phone software arena and Windows Phone 7.5 is the latest step in the company's effort to capture a piece of the fast-growing market. The initiative includes an alliance with Nokia under which the two companies are developing a mobile device ecosystem around Windows 7: The first Nokia phones based on Windows 7.0 debuted last month.
Microsoft held a 5.6 percent share of the U.S. smartphone platform market in the three months ended in September, down 0.2 percent from the June quarter, according to market statistics firm Comscore. That compares to the 44.8 percent share held by Google Android and 27.4 percent held by Apple.
In further evidence that Microsoft is serious about becoming a player in the smartphone space, the company has hired Gavin Kim, Samsung's vice president of consumer and enterprise services, to manage the Windows Phone team, according to a report on the bgr.com Website. In that role Kim, who worked on Samsung's Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab products, will play an influential role in the ongoing development of Windows Phone.
All of the new Windows Phone 7.5 smartphones are capable of 4G speeds and have front- and rear-facing cameras. The Samsung Focus S, with a $199.99 price tag, has a 4.3-inch display and an 8-megapixel camera. The Samsung Focus Flash, with a $49.99 price tag, has a 3.7-inch display and a 5-megapixel camera. Both use a 1.4GHz processor.
The HTC Radar 4G, with a $99.99 price tag (after a $50 rebate), has a 3.8-inch display. HTC is also close to debuting the HTC Titan through AT&T with a 4.7-inch display, 8-megapixel camera and 1.5GHz processor.
Microsoft has relaxed the hardware requirements for handset manufacturers who license Windows Phone 7.5, a move that could allow the development of cheaper Windows Phone-based devices. Manufacturers are no longer required to build a gyroscope, compass and front-facing camera into their products.