Microsoft will launch its first Windows Phone 7 devices Oct. 21, according to reports circulating online.
"Microsoft will hold several launch events worldwide on October 21 to introduce its latest Windows Phone 7 handsets," the tech blog Neowin posted Sept. 26, citing unnamed sources. "Microsoft is planning to hold an open house event in New York City on October 11 where it plans to show off some of the new devices."
According to Engadget, Microsoft will also host an all-day event in London on Oct. 11, presumably Windows Phone 7-related.
Last fall, Microsoft hosted a colorful event in New York City devoted to consumer products such as the Zune HD and Xbox 360, and its then-upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5. If Microsoft decided to repeat history this year, logic dictates it would use the occasion to show off Windows Phone 7.
In any case, with Windows Phone 7 devices expected to roll out in the October-November timeframe, preceded by a high-energy launch event, the rumor mill has kicked into predictably high gear. Last week, for example, an unnamed source told Venture Beat that Nokia plans on using Windows Phone 7 as a smartphone platform. That was followed by another slew of reports that Windows Phone 7 will support tethering, based on Podcast comments allegedly made by Windows Phone 7 director Brandon Watson; however, Microsoft was quick to shoot those rumors down.
"Windows Phone 7 will not support tethering," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a Sept. 24 e-mail to eWEEK.
Whatever date it ends up launched, Windows Phone 7 will appear first on GSM-based cellular networks such as AT&T's, before being available on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) carriers-including Verizon-in 2011. Microsoft remains tight-lipped about the number of devices that will be available at launch.
"In developing Windows Phone 7, we are placing high-quality customer experiences above all else," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a Sept. 17 e-mail to eWEEK. "In keeping with this goal, Microsoft chose to focus on delivering a great GSM version to the world first, and then a great CDMA version in the first half of 2011."
Another big question is whether third-party developers will gravitate toward Windows Phone 7 as a platform for their apps. Earlier in September, Microsoft released the final version of its Windows Phone Developer Tools, hoping to attract a wide variety of game- and productivity-app makers. Twitter, Netflix, OpenTable, Travelocity and Flixster are reportedly some of the higher-profile companies planning to have apps available at the devices' release.