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Microsoft Says CDMA Windows Phone 7 Delayed Until 2011

Microsoft will launch Windows Phone 7 with support for GSM only, as the CDMA version that will run on Verizon and Sprint isn't quite ready for prime time.


Microsoft is working on a CDMA version of Windows Phone 7 but says it won't be ready until sometime in the first half of next year, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. CDMA is the cellular technology of choice for Verizon Wireless and Sprint, but it's not nearly as widespread outside the U.S., where GSM is the predominant standard.

Greg Sullivan, senior product manager at Microsoft, told The Wall Street Journal that Microsoft opted for a GSM-only launch out of a desire to place "high-quality customer experiences above all else."

Verizon on Thursday said it's not planning to offer a Windows Phone 7 device at launch was seen as a blow to Microsoft, and possibly due to fallout from the disastrous launch of Microsoft Kin. But it's now clear that Verizon's decision was motivated by technical concerns as opposed to political ones.

Still, not having the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. on board with the Windows Phone 7 isn't good news for Microsoft, but it'll be quickly forgotten if the CDMA version arrives in January or February. However, if May rolls around and Microsoft still hasn't released the CDMA Windows Phone 7, industry doomsayers are going to have plenty of fodder for their Microsoft mobile eulogies.

But in the opinion of some partners, this isn't your garden variety Microsoft product delay. In the cellular business, the interplay between software and devices, and the need for exhaustive testing, can lead to delays that are beyond any single vendor's control.

"Microsoft doesn't control the time frame [for CDMA support] -- Verizon controls that," said Chris De Herrera, a Los Angeles-based Microsoft Windows Mobile MVP and editor of the Pocket PC FAQ blog. "Microsoft doesn't make the hardware, and CDMA support depends on how fast the hardware manufacturers work with Verizon."

Added De Herrera, "In an ideal world, you'd want to launch Windows Phone 7 simultaneously through multiple carriers. But given that most of the world uses GSM, I can completely understand why Microsoft decided to go this route."

Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, a Richmond, Calif.-based Microsoft partner, doesn't believe Windows Phone 7's momentum will be stalled from not having Verizon and Sprint on board right away.

"The iPhone has been wildly successful on one carrier, and it has been locked to AT&T for three years. Once the carriers see how fast high quality consumer and enterprise apps will come, I'm sure they'll get on board," Stanfield said.

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