Microsoft Sends Windows Phone 7 Prototypes To Testers

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Windows Phone 7 has progressed to the "technical preview" stage and Microsoft is in the process of sending thousands of prototype phones to selected developer partners, the company said over the weekend.

In a blog post, Terry Myerson, vice president of Windows Phone Engineering at Microsoft, said Microsoft has signed off internally on the technical preview, and within the next few weeks, developers will receive Windows Phone 7 prototypes from Asus, LG and Samsung for testing purposes.

Windows Phone 7 "is now ready for the hands-on everyday use of a broad set of consumers around the world," Myerson said Sunday in a post to the Windows Phone 7 team blog.

Microsoft has been grilled for its mobile missteps, but developers have been eagerly investigating what the Windows Phone 7 toolset has to offer. The Windows Phone 7 community technology preview (CTP) has had more than 200,000 downloads since Microsoft launched it in March, and Microsoft launched the public beta last week at its Worldwide Partner Conference.

Internally, Microsoft has more than one thousand employees who've been using Windows Phone 7 prototypes as their primary devices for the past several months, and the company has in excess of 10,000 Windows Phone devices in its test labs, according to Myerson.

With Windows Phone 7 hardware and software approaching completion, Microsoft looks ready to deliver devices to carrier partners in time for the holiday season, as it has pledged to do. However, Microsoft last week acknowledged that demand for Windows Phone 7 prototypes exceeds supply at the moment, and some developers will have to wait for theirs.

In the meantime, Windows Phone 7's lack of basic multi-tasking and copy and paste are the main points of feedback from developers thus far. Although most of the reaction to Myerson's blog post is positive, several posters are urging Microsoft to either include these features or clarify when they'll be added down the road.

Nonetheless, Microsoft appears to be satisfied with its progress thus far as it moves Windows Phone 7 into the home stretch. And Myerson sounds confident that Microsoft is going to stop its slide in the mobile market and start carving out market share with a differentiated product.

"We are on the path to do exactly what we set out to do -- create a different take on mobile phone software, an experience we think many people will find fun and refreshing, with a quality bar that we’re proud of," Myerson said in the blog post.

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