Microsoft's CES Windows Phone Push Begins With HTC Titan II

Microsoft will make a hard push for Windows Phone at this year's CES, starting with some pre-show news on the upcoming HTC Titan II.

LAS VEGAS - Ahead of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's opening keynote at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, the company is touting the first in what will almost certainly be a plethora of new Windows Phone smartphones present on the show floor: the HTC Titan II, a 4G Long-Term Evolution-capable device on AT&T.

In a Jan. 9 posting on the Windows Phone Blog, Microsoft declined to name an exact release date for the device, but it did call out some notable specs, including a 4.7-inch WVGA screen, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor and a 16-megapixel rear camera.

That camera features "a fast wide-angle lens (f2.6, 28mm), autofocus, and dual LED flash," Michael Stroh, a Microsoft spokesperson, wrote in the blog posting. "Shutterbugs will appreciate extras like red-eye reduction, image stabilization, a panorama mode for landscapes, and a burst shot mode for sports or kids." It will also take 720p "HD" video.

Microsoft has high hopes for Windows Phone, which attracted some critical praise but little market share during its first year in release. In a bid to increase the platform's presence among consumers and businesses, the company is now engaging in something of a two-pronged campaign: muscling up the software with a variety of new features and tweaks, and partnering with a broad constellation of manufacturers to bring new devices to market.

On top of that, Microsoft and its partners will pump hundreds of millions into marketing Windows Phone to U.S. customers in 2012, according to a recent posting on Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows.

"According to internal Microsoft documentation I've viewed, the total cost of this marketing tsunami is in the neighborhood of $200 million," he wrote in that Jan. 4 missive. "And, again, that's just for the United States." Among the reported initiatives: paying incentives to retail workers to push Windows Phone devices.

There are also reports that Microsoft will follow up its most recent software update, Mango, with two other updates throughout the course of 2012. The first, "Tango," could possibly target the midmarket with a stripped-down user interface to match the lower cost. The second, reportedly code-named Apollo, might aim at the high end of the market.

The question is whether this wave of new software and hardware is enough to attract users who might otherwise opt for an Apple iPhone or Google Android device. With this year's CES, Microsoft continues its hard push to prove Windows Phones' relevance against those competitors.

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