Device manufacturers including Toshiba and LG Electronics are announcing plans to offer phones based on the new Windows Mobile 6.0. Other device makers committed to supporting Windows Mobile 6.0 include High Tech Computer, imate, Motorola., Palm and Samsung Electronics, Microsoft says.
Some operators are also allowing customers to upgrade from the previous Windows Mobile software. T-Mobile USA., for example, announced on Monday that it will offer an upgrade to the new operating system to customers who are using the HTC device running Windows Mobile 5.0. Users will be able to download the new operating system for free from T-Mobile's web site starting in the second quarter, says Leslie Grandy, vice president of product and service development for T-Mobile USA.
Most of the phones running Windows Mobile 6.0 will become available in March or April.
Analysts and competitors have criticised the Windows Mobile platform for being available on a smaller range of phones than other operating systems, specifically Nokia's Symbian S60. But Microsoft argues that it is offering the best choice to users.
"We are now promoting 140 different form factors from 48 device makers," says Marianne Roling, director of mobile embedded devices for Europe, Middle East and Africa for Microsoft. "We're seeing lots of traction."
Microsoft also brushed off impending competition with the iPhone, a new combined music player and phone to be introduced by Apple later this year. "It's a nice product. It's an expensive product," says Pieter Knook, senior vice president of Microsoft's mobile embedded device group, at 3GSM. "We're focused on a different model than Apple. We know how to partner with device makers and operators and bring technology to market."