Microsoft Ushers in New Windows Phones With Style in Big NYC Bash

Microsoft celebrated the launch of a series of affordable new Windows Phones with a big party in New York's Herald Square, featuring a concert by hip-hop group Far East Movement.

NEW YORK - Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) threw a party in Herald Square to celebrate the launch of a series of new Windows Phones from partners such as Samsung and HTC, and carriers including AT&T and T-Mobile USA.

But before the big splash right outside the Macy's flagship store here on Nov. 7, Microsoft held a more intimate "Backstage" event for press and analysts to display all of its Windows Phones, and talk momentum and the emerging developer opportunity. At this low-key event in the Hammerstein Ballroom in the New Yorker hotel, Microsoft and its application, handset and carrier partners showed off new wares and talked strategy in the lowly lit black-velvet draped venue.

"We're launching four new phones in the U.S.," said Andy Lees, president of the Windows Phone Division at Microsoft. "This has been an amazing journey. In the last month we updated all the Windows Phones, all in less than a month to Windows Phone 7.5. And today smartphones got smarter."

The newly launched Windows Phone 7.5, formerly code-named Mango, start at $49.99 and range to $199.99, Lees said. Now available at AT&T, the Samsung Focus S and Samsung Focus Flash are the newest additions to the Windows Phone portfolio, joining the HTC Radar 4G, available at T-Mobile USA.

All the new Windows Phones in the U.S. are capable of 4G speeds, and have front- and rear-facing cameras. And to help new Windows Phone customers defray costs, people who purchase the HTC Radar 4G at T-Mobile or the Samsung Focus Flash at AT&T will receive a free $25 prepaid app card. This card may be used to shop from the catalog of 35,000-plus apps and games from Windows Phone Marketplace such as Angry Birds, Facebook, ESPN, and, launching Nov. 7, Spotify, the digital music service.

The Samsung Focus S builds on the success of the highest-selling Windows Phone in the U.S., the Samsung Focus. Available from AT&T for $199.99, it features a brilliant 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, a 1.4GHz processor, 4G-capable speeds and a thin profile at 8.55 millimeters. It also includes an 8-megapixel camera.

In addition, the Samsung Focus Flash hits the market at just $49.99. Its 3.7-inch Super AMOLED screen will both fit in pockets and be light on pocketbooks, with the full power of Windows Phone 7.5 inside. It runs a 1.4GHz processor and has a 5-megapixel camera.

Meanwhile, crafted from a single piece of polished aluminum, the HTC Radar 4G from T-Mobile offers a unique design along with a vivid 3.8-inch screen. The HTC Radar 4G is available at T-Mobile stores nationwide for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate card with a two-year service agreement.

And soon to come is the HTC TITAN from AT&T. With the largest screen of any Windows Phone, the TITAN is perfect for multitasking and making your entertainment and photos come to life. It sports a 4.7-inch screen and a 9.9-millimeter design. The TITAN is 4G-capable and is equipped with a 1.5GHz processor and an 8-megapixel camera with dual LED flash.

To celebrate its continued momentum and the launch of the new phones, "We're taking the trends to bigger screens to the next level," Lees said, noting that in Herald Square, Microsoft had constructed a 55-foot replica of a Windows Phone with "live" applications and music. "With Live Tiles we don't give you an icon to play music; we show you the band," he said, adding that hot electro hip-hop group Far East Movement would be playing in one of the tiles of the Windows Phone replica.