The first Windows Phone 7 smartphone will launch Nov. 8 on AT&T, followed a few weeks later by two other devices. Microsoft is also rushing to push out a cut-and-paste feature for the smartphones by early 2011.
"We knew it was going to be a winner," Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T's Mobility and Consumer Markets, told assembled media and analysts during Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 launch event Oct. 11 in New York City.
As the premiere U.S. carrier, AT&T will introduce three Windows Phone 7 devices in November: the LG Quantum ($199), which features a physical QWERTY keyboard; the HTC Surround ($199), with a slide-out speaker and a kickstand; and the Samsung Focus ($199), which AT&T claims will be the thinnest of the initial Windows Phone 7 devices.
All Windows Phone 7 devices will feature a 1GHz processor. Microsoft has also imposed fairly strict hardware requirements on its manufacturing partners, dictating that all devices feature three mechanical buttons and a "pane of glass" form factor. Before AT&T debuted its devices at the New York City event, however, there was no official mention of physical QWERTY keyboards, kickstands or other add-ons being permitted in the designs.
The Samsung Focus will launch Nov. 8, followed by the other two phones a few weeks later.
Windows Phone 7 will be initially available only on GSM-based networks such as AT&T and T-Mobile, with Verizon following in early 2011. Microsoft will back the phones with a massive marketing campaign, estimated at $400 million by Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Goldberg.
"I've been looking forward to this day for some time," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the audience at the New York City event. "We focused in on the way real people really want to use their phones when they're on the go. We want you to get in, out and back to life." In total, he added, Microsoft will launch nine Windows Phone 7 devices in November, from manufacturers including Dell and Samsung.
Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice president and director of Windows Phone Program Management, also said during the launch event that cut-and-paste, a user-interface option previously announced as being unavailable during Windows Phone 7's initial release, will make an appearance in early 2011. Some early criticism of Windows Phone 7 had focused on the initial lack of cut-and-paste, even though one of Microsoft's chief rivals in the smartphone space, the Apple iPhone, also lacked cut-and-paste for some time.
Belfiore also demonstrated some previously unannounced features for Windows Phone 7, such as the ability to snap photos without needing to power the smartphone to full life. The question confronting Microsoft's designers, he said, was to build a phone that "anticipates the things [users] want and need."