Microsoft will launch Windows Phone 7 at a high-profile event in New York City Oct. 11. An invite sent to media confirms AT&T's involvement as a premier carrier for the upcoming smartphone platform; a separate Microsoft Webpage suggests that representatives from T-Mobile will also be present.
The launch event will kick off with a morning press conference hosted by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T's Mobility and Consumer Markets. Following that, Microsoft will host a "device showcase" featuring AT&T smartphones running Windows Phone 7.
Later that afternoon, Microsoft will host an "Open House" event, where it will display many of its upcoming products such as Xbox Kinect and Windows Phone 7.
While the day's media invite only mentions AT&T, a page on Microsoft's corporate Website lists as an agenda item: "T-Mobile reps will be present for device showing and their service offering discussion." T-Mobile is reportedly preparing an HTC HD7 smartphone running Windows Phone 7 for U.S. release.
Microsoft had previously confirmed that 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 the first half of 2011. During the Oct. 11 event, AT&T executives will likely provide a timeframe for an actual device launch, although previous reports have suggested an early November timeframe.
"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."
In September, Microsoft released the final version of its Windows Phone Developer Tools, which it hopes will compel developers to design a wide variety of applications for the platform. Twitter, Netflix, OpenTabe, Flixster and Travelocity are some of the higher-profile companies planning to have apps available for Windows Phone 7 upon its release.
Microsoft will spend nearly a half-billion dollars in marketing during Windows Phone 7's initial rollout, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Goldberg. "This is make-or-break for them. They need to do whatever it takes to stay in the game," he told the blog TechCrunch Aug. 26. "They don't have to take share from Android or Apple, so long as they can attract enough consumers switching from feature phones."
Nonetheless, fierce competition with Google Android devices and the Apple iPhone is widely credited with having driven down Microsoft's smartphone market share over the past several quarters; although the company's Mobile franchise once held a comfortable portion of the market, largely thanks to business adoption, the rise of those other platforms saw a corresponding dip in Microsoft's user base.