HTC has become a major player in the smartphone market since attaching itself to Google's Android OS. On Jan. 6, however, it was an HTC "Windows Phone," with support for CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) radios in the 850 and 1900 MHz bands, that the Federal Communications Commission gave the okay to.
Phones running Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 operating system have so far only launched with GSM-based carriers, like T-Mobile and AT&T. During the Oct. 11 introduction of Windows Phone 7, however, Microsoft officials said that support for CDMA-based networks was coming, promising phones from Sprint and Verizon Wireless in 2011. And indeed, from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Microsoft confirmed that Windows Phone devices for Verizon and Sprint will launch in the first half of the year.
The FCC authorization certifies that the device is in compliance with commission standards, particularly regarding a user's exposure to radio frequencies. The FCC document also reveals that the unnamed phone will not have the capability to act as a mobile hotspot.
During the second half of 2011, Microsoft plans to release Windows Phone 7 in several major markets around the world. From CES, Greg Sullivan, senior product manager for Windows Phone, told Fierce Wireless that Microsoft is still in the first stage of its launch and that so far consumer response has been "absolutely fantastic."
After admittedly missing out on the first wave of smartphone adoption, Microsoft has a good chance of gaining market share in 2011 and beyond-particularly with its expansion to CDMA networks, research firm IDC suggested in a Dec. 29 research note.
"CDMA phones are expected to arrive in early 2011, ensuring that WP7 devices are available on all four U.S. carriers, thus helping increase device shipments," IDC analyst Al Hilwa wrote in the note, adding that Microsoft would still need to add "several key features," such as multitasking support and copy-and-paste, during the first quarter of 2011.
Hilwa added, "Microsoft's success will be measured by the speed at which it can broaden its country, carrier and device portfolios, and the pace of delivery of new capabilities in its software."
Current HTC handsets running Windows Phone 7 include the HD7, HTC 7 Mozart, HTC 7 Surround and HTC 7 Pro.
In a review of the HD7, eWEEK's Nicholas Kolakowskifound the phone to be polished and functional, but nonetheless like a first draft. Still, he wrote, "in what will likely prove a disappointment to those critics who like to proclaim Microsoft dead in the consumer space, Windows Phone 7 boasts no major issues."
Microsoft is likely banking on meeting with more enthusiasm. But it's a start.