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Microsoft to Throw 'Hundreds of Millions' of Dollars at ZunePhone

At the Mobile World Congress, Microsoft (News - Alert) unveiled phone software that “works a lot like its own Zune media player,” according to the Associated Press (News - Alert).
Industry observer Matt Rosoff remarked that it “not only features the entire Zune HD software and services experience (just like the iPod became a component of the iPhone (News - Alert)), but the entire user interface itself bears a close resemblance to the Zune HD.”
This isn’t your father’s Windows Mobile, mired in third place after the BlackBerry (News - Alert) and iPhone and losing market share to Android. Called the Windows Phone 7 series, industry observers say this is Microsoft’s “final chance to get it right.”
That’s the opinion of Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin, who said the new software looked promising. According to the AP he thinks many of those who have current Windows phones “don’t seem excited about the brand – many of them believe their phones are made by Apple (News - Alert) or Nokia, according to his firm’s research,” in the AP’s words.
“Microsoft isn’t building the hardware like it did with Zune – rather, partners like HTC, LG, and Samsung will do that work,” Rosoff said.
Industry observer Despardes noted that “the new interface also has a series of hubs, which bring together related content from the Web, applications and services into a single view. The six hubs are people, pictures, games, marketplace, music and office.”
The music hub, Despardes explained, “brings together music and video content from a user’s PC, online music services and an in-built FM radio. The games hub incorporates elements of online gaming network Xbox live, including games and ability for gamers to access their online profiles.”
The AP reports that the games “hub” connects to an Xbox Live account and “lets players pick up where they left off with multiplayer games. They will even be able to play games against PC users.”
Andy Lees, senior vice president of Microsoft’s mobile communications business, said “Windows Mobile suffered from the company’s chaotic approach to the market. The software maker gave phone hardware makers and wireless carriers so much freedom to alter the system and install it on so many different devices that none worked the same way,” in the AP’s words.
To fix that, Microsoft is “imposing a set of required features for Windows phones,” including permanent buttons for “home,” “search” and “back,” a high-resolution screen with the same touch-sensing technology as the iPhone and other basics.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Erin Harrison

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