When Microsoft’s much-hyped Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system arrives next month, it’ll most likely debut on handsets from wireless carriers AT&T and/or T-Mobile, according to published reports.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Windows Phone 7, the stylish successor to Redmond’s aging Windows Mobile platform, will initially appear on GSM cellular networks, which in the U.S. means AT&T and T-Mobile.
The Journal quotes Microsoft senior product manager Greg Sullivan, who says Redmond selected GSM because it’s “placing high-quality customer service above all else.” Both Verizon Wireless and Sprint use a competing cellular technology called CDMA, which is less popular than GSM internationally.
The first Windows Phone 7 handsets will ship in time for the holiday shopping season, but Microsoft won’t provide a CDMA version of its mobile OS until the first half of 2011. According to Bloomberg, Verizon Wireless says it won’t offer a Win Phone 7 device until sometime next year.
Microsoft faces a daunting challenge in the U.S. smartphone market. While it was busy cooking up Windows Phone 7, sales surged for Apple’s iPhone and a growing number of Google Android-based handsets.
Market forecasters are split on whether Redmond can regain its spot as a player in the mobile OS market. Gartner predicts Windows Phone will be an also-ran by 2014 with an anemic 4-percent share, while IDC gives Microsoft’s OS a healthier 9.8-percent share in four years.