Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Will Not Support Tethering

Microsoft confirms that Windows Phone 7 will not support tethering at launch, despite online reports to the contrary.

For a few magical moments Sept. 24, news spread across the Web that Windows Phone 7 would support tethering, allowing anyone with the soon-to-be-released smartphones to connect nearby devices to the Web.

The news appeared on Websites such as WMExperts, quoting a Windows Weekly Podcast in which Windows Phone 7 director Brandon Watson allegedly mentioned that tethering would be a feature in the upcoming mobile platform. However, he likely misspoke.

"Windows Phone 7 does not support tethering," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a Sept. 24 e-mail to eWEEK. Microsoft has not publicly released plans for future smartphone versions.

Some Google Android-based smartphones, notably the Droid X, permit tethering to additional devices. For an additional $20 per month, AT&T customers can add tethering capability to their smartphones, including the Apple iPhone. Will a lack of tethering affect Windows Phone 7's marketplace chances?

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. Unlike Google Android and Apple's iPhone, which arrange individual apps in grids, Microsoft's smartphone user interface aggregates both Web content and apps into a series of subject-specific "Hubs" such as "Office" and "Games." The company's hope is that the brand-new interface-paired with a wide variety of apps and devices-will help reverse its slow decline in smartphone market share.

"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."

Earlier in September, Microsoft released the final version of its Windows Phone Developer Tools, with which it hopes developers will use to create mobile applications for the platform. Twitter, Netflix, OpenTable, Flixster and Travelocity are some of the higher-profile companies planning to have apps available upon the smartphones' release, expected in the October-November timeframe.

Microsoft remains tight-lipped about the number of Windows Phone 7 smartphones that will be available for the initial launch. But that, along with the number of carriers, will likely have a greater effect on sales than tethering or no tethering.