Microsoft issues Windows Phone 7 technical preview

Microsoft released a "technical preview" of its forthcoming Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system, stating that the software is "now ready for the hands-on everyday use of a broad set of consumers around the world." Writing on the Windows Phone Blog, Windows Phone Engineering corporate vice president Terry Myerson reports WP7 is not yet finished, but Microsoft is ready to begin soliciting feedback from developers, consumers, operators and OEMs. The technical preview follows months of daily testing by more than 1,000 Microsoft staffers, with WP7 now trialed across more than 10,000 devices--the tests have focused on usability, battery life, network connectivity and related subjects. Myerson adds that Microsoft is now shipping prototype WP7 devices from Asus, LG and Samsung to developer partners.

The Windows Phone 7 technical preview arrives roughly a week after Microsoft announced a series of new additions to the new OS, promising tighter cloud-based integration between mobile devices and PCs. Among the new features: Windows Phone Live, a companion site giving WP7 users a centralized hub to view pictures they've published, browse their Windows Live calendar and contacts, exchange OneNote files and access other information shared between the phone and the web. Writing on the Windows Phone Blog, Microsoft director of mobile communications Aaron Woodman notes the Windows Phone Live site offers 25GB of free SkyDrive storage--it also hosts the new Find My Phone service, enabling consumers to locate and manage a missing phone with map, ring, lock and erase capabilities. Woodman additionally touted a WP7 push notification service enabling applications to deliver real-time updates via live Tiles on the device homescreen.

Also last week, Microsoft confirmed reports it is offering financial incentives to mobile software developers to stir interest in new applications for Windows Phone 7. Microsoft's senior director of mobile services and developer product management Todd Brix tells Bloomberg the software giant is providing everything from free tools and trial handsets to software development funding, even offering revenue guarantees in the event apps fail to sell as expected. Brix declined to state how much Microsoft will spend to woo developers to WP7, but said it is a larger sum than the company invested in previous compensation programs. "We are investing a lot to attract developers big and small to Windows Phone 7 to let them understand what the opportunity is and provide as many resources as we can to help them be successful on our platform," Brix said. "We're open for business and we want to work with them."

For more on the Windows Phone 7 technical preview:
- read this Windows Phone Blog entry

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