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Microsoft Set To Launch Windows Phone 7

Microsoft in a matter of hours will give the public its first full view of products and services built around its new Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system.

Microsoft's Windows 7 Revealed
(click image for larger view)
Microsoft's Windows 7 Phone Revealed

Along with execs from Microsoft's partners, company CEO Steve Ballmer will take the stage at a launch event in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood to tout the platform, which many analysts believe is Microsoft's last chance to make a splash in the increasingly crucial mobile market.

Ballmer has admitted that Microsoft was late to the party in launching a smartphone OS that can support a wide range of applications while connecting users in real-time with social media and cloud services. As a result, the company badly trails Apple, with its iPhone, and Google, which is shaking up the mobile market with its increasingly popular Android OS.

Microsoft to date has not released sales forecasts for Windows Phone 7, or the devices that will host it.

Gartner predicts the release of Windows Phone 7 will help bump Microsoft's share of the worldwide mobile OS market from 4.7% in 2010 to 5.2% in 2011, but says the company's share will ultimately decline to just 3.9% by 2014.

Microsoft will reportedly spend $400 million to promote Windows Phone 7 and is also counting on numerous partners to help it close the gap with its rivals. Handset makers who plan to bring Windows Phone 7 devices to market include HTC, LG, and Samsung, while carriers include AT&T and T-Mobile.

Windows Phone 7 also leverages many existing Windows development tools with which developers are already familiar. The downside, some critics says, is that Windows Phone 7 is not backwards compatible with any version of Windows Mobile, Microsoft's previous entry in the mobile space.

Microsoft has said it expects Windows Mobile 7-based phones will go on sale to the general public in time for the 2010 holiday season.