Details On Windows Phone: Windows Phone Starter, No WP7S Upgrade For HD2, WP7S LG Prototype

Even before Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7 Series there were reports of HTC HD2 aka HTC Leo would be the only Windows Mobile 6.5 phone that would qualify for an upgrade to Windows Phone 7. After the announcement of Windows Phone 7, there was an alleged leaked image of the HTC HD2 running Windows Phone 7, the image was declared a fake. A Microsoft official while talking on the Engadget Show said that some Windows Mobile 6.5 phones can support Windows Phone 7 and it is upto the OEMs (manufacturers) to decide. With all those mixed signals, Microsoft’s Natasha Kwan, General Manager for Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business in the Asia-Pacific region in an interview to APC magazine categorically stated that the HTC HD2 will not qualify for an upgrade to Microsoft’s latest mobile phone OS since it doesn’t have the three buttons.

What’s so great about 3 buttons, you ask? Well, Microsoft has provided strict specifications to phone manufacturers for Windows Phone 7 Series devices and one of the specification is that the handset should have these 3 dedicated buttons:

  • Home
  • Search
  • Back

The HTC HD2 five:

  • Home
  • Windows Menu
  • Back
  • Call
  • End Call/Power

Though the HTC HD2 fulfills most of the other chassis specifications, chances of having an official upgrade path look slim. Looks like Microsoft is serious about keeping the user experience consistent across all Windows Phone 7 Series devices and is in no mood to compromise on that. Power to them! Sorry HD2 owners. Talking about Windows Phone 7 Series devices, Microsoft, it seems has learnt PR in 2010. Engadget got an exclusive preview of LG’s Windows Phone 7 Series device prototype. A quick demo video courtesy Engadget:

News is doing rounds that LG will be launching the first Windows Phone 7 Series devices by September of this year. Back to HTC HD2, Microsoft stated that more details will be provided at their annual event MIX10. And as such, we shall wait.

While phone devices were being talked about, Microsoft gave out some more details about Windows Phone editions. There were initial reports that Windows Mobile 6.5.x will be renamed to Windows Phone Classic and be an offering for low end phones. Now according to ZDNet, Microsoft will be offering a Windows Phone Starter edition that will be a stripped down version of Windows Mobile 6.5. The features that will define Windows Phone Starter are:

(Devices) with and without Microsoft Office Mobile and supports 2G (GSM), 2.5G (CDMA2000 xRTT, EDGE, GPRS), CDMA (Rev A, EV-DO Revision A), and TD-SCDMA radios.

Which essentially means that there will be Windows Phone 7 Series and Windows Phone Starter edition as there is no official confirmation on Windows Phone Classic. Though it is still unclear as to whether a stripped down version of Windows Mobile 6.5 will be Windows Phone Starter and Windows Mobile 6.5 will be renamed to Windows Phone Classic or whether there won’t be a Windows Phone Classic and the entire Windows Mobile 6.5 range will be known as Windows Phone Starter, one thing is certain, Microsoft needs to come out with a clear strategy going forward.

The confusion of whether Microsoft plans to support Windows Mobile 6.5 and to what extent will keep on cannibalizing Windows Mobile sales till Windows Phone 7 Series devices are available. Though OEMs like Videocon and HTC seem to be committed to the platform for now, software makers like Skype and Adobe aren’t. Giving credit where it’s due, Microsoft doesn’t seem to be giving up on Windows Mobile 6.5 just as yet. The latest build is Windows Mobile 6.5.5.

PS: That’s what happens when you don’t write about Microsoft for a few weeks. Missed me?

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Manan Kakkar

Manan is a technology enthusiast keenly following the consumer products from Microsoft, Google & Apple.