CDMA Windows Phone 7 devices, OS update on the way

Microsoft says it's seen early hardware designs for the CDMA phones but it isn't saying when they'll be out

Microsoft has seen early hardware designs for CDMA Windows Phone 7 devices but isn't saying anything more than that the final products will be out in the first half of the year.

"The timeline is not dictated by us, at some point," said Aaron Woodman , director of Microsoft's mobile communications business. He said the software for the CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) version is almost done and that Microsoft has seen some early hardware designs. But the final release date is dependant on the hardware makers.

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Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 on the GSM standard with T-Mobile and AT&T in the U.S., as well as with operators around the world, late last year. It has said that CDMA versions of the phones would follow this year.

"We have good working relationships with Sprint and Verizon. We've worked with them both in the past," Woodman said. Sprint and Verizon have CDMA networks in the U.S.

Observers have speculated that Microsoft and Verizon hit a rough patch with the launch of Microsoft's Kin phones. While neither company revealed sales figures, the phones are thought to have sold poorly. Shortly after launch, Microsoft stopped development of the Kin platform.

In addition to the CDMA versions of the phones, Microsoft is working on the first update to the Windows Phone 7 operating system. The update will let users cut and paste and will also include performance upgrades. In a demonstration that showed a phone with the current-generation software next to a phone with the updated software, a game loaded noticeably faster on the updated phone.

Microsoft has not quite completed its "rigorous test process" for the new software but has begun offering the mobile operators early views of the update, Woodman said. The company is also packaging software updates from the OEMs into the update, he said.

To get the updated software, users will have to connect their phones to their computers and download the update, rather than receiving it over the air. Other phone makers, such as Apple, have a similar requirement.

Woodman could not shed any light on when Microsoft might offer updates that would make the phones more appealing to security-conscious enterprise customers. Experts say Windows Phone 7 falls behind both the iPhone and Android phones in terms of security and management features. Woodman noted that those phone makers also started out with few features that appeal to enterprises but that they matured by adding capabilities to attract different niche markets.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's email address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com.

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