Microsoft Adds Samsung To Windows Phone 7 Roster

Samsung on Thursday said it intends to launch "several" Windows Phone 7 smartphones this year in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Samsung, a longstanding Windows Mobile partner, brings global reach that will help Microsoft hit the ground running in its most important product launch since Windows 7. Dell, HTC and LG are also building devices for the initial Windows Phone 7 launch wave, which is just around the corner.

"For years, Samsung has been a key partner in bringing new Windows phones to customers all over the world," said Steve Guggenheimer, vice president of the OEM division at Microsoft, in a statement.

Microsoft will launch Windows Phone 7 on Oct. 11 and AT&T will begin selling devices the week of Nov. 8, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, quoting people with knowledge of Microsoft's plans.

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Although Samsung is on board with Windows Phone 7, it has also embraced Google's Android OS. Samsung's first Android smartphone, the Galaxy S, sold more than one million devices in the six weeks after its launch. Samsung is also using Android in its forthcoming Galaxy Tab tablet.

Next: Potential Bumps In The Road

Microsoft has already acknowledged that the CDMA version of Windows Phone 7 won't arrive until sometime in the first half of next year, which means AT&T and T-Mobile will be the only carriers selling devices. 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.

Not having Verizon on board at launch is a blow, no doubt, but Microsoft's choice of AT&T as a "premier partner" for Windows Phone 7 is also curious. AT&T is Apple's exclusive U.S. partner for the iPhone, and despite the well-publicized service issues iPhone users are dealing with, Windows Phone 7 devices will have to compete for customer eyeballs with the world's most talked about mobile device. That's not an ideal scenario for a fledgling mobile OS.

But despite being behind in the mobile market, Microsoft isn't exuding an air of desperation. Instead, Microsoft sees the mobile market as a wide open field that's ripe for the taking. Microsoft believes Windows Phone 7 is going to be a springboard that gets it back into the mobile discussion, and to illustrate its confidence, Microsoft even staged mock funerals for the iPhone and Blackberry earlier this month.

In an interview with the Seattle Timesearlier this week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offered insight into his near-term goals for Windows Phone 7.

"The place to start is, 'Are we going to have cool phones out with our software on them this holiday season?' You put aside the questions of how you make money and blah, blah, blah," Ballmer said in the interview.