Microsoft, Telstra To Launch Phones With Customized Interface

Posted on February 17, 2009. Filed under: Microsoft | Tags: , , , , , |

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Australian telecommunications company Telstra Corp. (TLS.AU) said Tuesday they will launch a line of phones with a customized user interface that runs on the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system.

The new Telstra interface will be available on phones made by Motorola Inc. ( MOT) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930.SE) in April and May, respectively. The two companies said they have plans to make it available on more Windows Mobile handsets in the future.

Telstra and Microsoft entered an alliance in November to work together in areas including mobile devices and hosted business applications.

Microsoft is locked in an increasingly competitive battle for market share with other smartphone operating systems. In a recent interview, Scott Rockfeld, group product manager for Windows Mobile, cited Microsoft’s ability to customize its operating system to the specifications of various operators as a competitive advantage over rivals.

“We partner deeply with handset makers and mobile operators around the world,” he said.

Windows Mobile has been a standard used by handset makers who didn’t want to develop their own operating system, including major firms like Samsung and niche smartphone makers such as Taiwan’s HTC Corp. (2498.TW).

Earlier this week, Microsoft said a new version of its operating system, Windows Mobile 6.5, will be available on handsets by the end of the year. It will incorporate features such as better Web browsing and better operability with a touch-screen phone.

Microsoft executives have conceded that the company has focused too much on business users while neglecting consumer tastes, a lesson brought home by the success of products such as Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone.

Microsoft’s share of the global smartphone business increased to 13.3% last year from 11% in 2007, but Apple tripled its share over the same period, to 9% from 3%, according to research firm IDC.



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