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Microsoft rolls out Windows 7 for cell phones

NEW YORK – Microsoft Corp. knows the cell phone world is where it’s happening, and it’s determined to be a part of it.

After years of declining sales of phones based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software, the company is starting with a fresh slate – a completely new operating system for phones that it showcased on Monday.

The new handsets will go up against Apple Inc.’s highly popular iPhone and the expanding number of phones running on Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

When you can get one: The first phone with Windows Phone 7 will be the Samsung Focus, which hits AT&T Inc. stores Nov. 8 for $200 with a two-year contract requirement, Microsoft said Monday. It will be closely followed by two more phones for AT&T and one for T-Mobile USA. Sprint Nextel Corp. is getting Windows 7 phones in the first half of next year.

Microsoft has lined up 60 carriers in 30 countries to carry Windows 7 phones.

What they do: From a hardware standpoint, the Windows 7 phones are indistinguishable from high-end Android phones: They have big touch screens, and a few models have slide-out keyboards.

Microsoft’s software is partly based on the aesthetic from the company’s Zune media players. It is centered around “tiles” on the front screen that are supposed to tell the user at a glance about important new information, such as e-mail and Facebook status update.

The software is designed to work well with Microsoft’s Office applications and to connect to Xbox Live, the company’s online game service.

What it won’t do: Although there are tens of thousands of applications written for Windows Mobile, they won’t work on Windows Phone 7, so Microsoft needs new developers.

Microsoft showed off apps from game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. and the Internet Movie Database on Monday.


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