Microsoft is revealing new details about its Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphones, set to debut worldwide on Oct. 6, as well as insight into its strategy for securing a larger portion of the smartphone market currently dominated by Apple's iPhone and Research In Motion's BlackBerry handsets.
Options, apparently, will be the name of the game.
On the Microsoft blog, Stephanie Ferguson, the company's general manager for product management, says that in research surveys in preparation for the devices, 74 percent of respondents named "productivity" as the feature they value most in a smartphone. Given that, according to Microsoft, 15 million people are expected to buy new smartphones in the next year, the company made sure to comply.
"We took this feedback to heart, making the user interface more touch friendly and improving notifications and updates from e-mail, text and calendar items," wrote Ferguson.
"We also included the latest Internet Explorer Mobile browser and added free services like My Phone to help protect data in the event of a lost phone and Windows Marketplace for Mobile for access to a wide variety of applications for direct download."
After discovering that some users of Microsoft phones didn't know they were users of Microsoft phones, branding will become more obvious. And while that's sure to apply across the board, design options will include various price points and functionalities: phones with and without touchscreens, with and without keyboards, and the choice of yeah or nay to GPS, a high-resolution camera and an accelerometer.
While Microsoft's original plan for Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which is set to launch this fall with 600-plus applications, was to make it only for devices running Windows 6.5. It has since widened its offered options in this regard as well and will include older versions of Windows Mobile as well.
Windows Mobile devices will also have free access to AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots beginning Sept. 14, according to PhoneScoop. For customers with a qualifying data plan, the free access will be available on Samsung's Jack, Propel Pro and Epix Windows Mobile devices, and extend to the Windows Mobile 6.5 devices when they arrive.
In North America, Windows Mobile 6.5 will be appearing on phones from Hewlett-Packard, HTC, LG Electronics, Samsung and Toshiba, Ferguson reports, and on the AT&T, Bell Mobility, Sprint, TELUS and Verizon Wireless networks.
In Europe, that list of manufacturers will additionally include Acer and Ericsson.