Microsoft Bows Intel Smartphone, T-Mobile Pact

By Vikki Lipset

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Microsoft on Monday stepped up its efforts to secure a piece of the mobile phone market as it announced new products and partnerships at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant announced the concept design of its Smartphone that was first announced with Intel at last year's 3GSM show, is now available to device makers.

The design is based on the Intel Personal Internet Client Architecture (Intel PCA) and includes an Intel PXA262 processor, a 176-by-220-pixel color screen and an integrated camera.

Taiwanese manufacturer Wistron, which makes the Axim Pocket PC for Dell, said it will ship a phone based on the design later this year.

Derek Brown, group product manager for Microsoft Mobile Devices Division, said that the reference design allows companies such as Wistron to build a phone without sinking a lot of its own R&D money into the process.

"We've gone from just a few people making phones to a much broader set of companies that are bringing innovative products to market," he said.

In addition, Microsoft announced that German operator T-Mobile will launch a handset based on its Smartphone software in Europe this summer. T-Mobile also plans to offer MSN services such as Hotmail and Messenger.

The phone from T-Mobile will be manufactured by Taiwan's High Tech Computer (HTC), which also made the Orange SPV, the first Microsoft Smartphone to hit the market.

T-Mobile is just the second carrier (France's Orange was the first) to announce a phone using the Smartphone platform since Microsoft started shipping the software in October. Microsoft said that Smart in the Philippines will announce the availability of Smartphones in Asia this week, and that AT&T Wireless will also introduce a phone based on the software this year.