Rumor Mill: Windows Phone 8 devices won't hit until November

Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 8 platform may not make it to market until November, according to a ZDNet report, which could put the smartphones running the new software into an extremely tough fight with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) next iPhone.

According to the report, from Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley, who cited only one source, the new software will be released in September to manufacturers, and Windows Phone 8 devices will be generally available in November. Microsoft has not said when it intends to launch Windows Phone 8, but a fall launch is widely expected.

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to comment. 

A November launch could see Microsoft and its partners pushing their devices in the wake of a new iPhone launch. If Apple follows last year's schedule, it will release a new iPhone model in October.  

Nokia (NYSE:NOK), as well as HTC, Huawei and Samsung, are expected to release Windows Phone 8 hardware later this fall. The update delivers several key improvements to the platform, including: changes to the start screen, which will allow users to customize the size and quantity of the live titles that appear on their devices' home screens; support for multi-core chipsets from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) to bolster smartphone performance and optimize battery life; integration of VoIP and video chat into the platform; microSD support for removable storage; and Near-Field Communications for mobile wallet and data transfer applications.

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8, which is designed for both PCs and tablets, will be available Oct. 26. Both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will allow developers to write to the Windows NT kernel, which should make it easier for developers to make cross-platform apps. Microsoft's current Windows Phone platform runs on the Windows CE kernel.

Even as speculation swirls about the future of Windows Phone, investors are worried that Nokia, Microsoft's key partner, is not turning around fast enough. Nokia said Thursday it sold four million Lumia Windows Phones in the second quarter, up from two million in the first quarter. However, Nokia also posted a $1.7 billion net loss, and the company's net sales in its critical Devices & Services business fell 26 percent. In response, several analysts have cut their ratings further on Nokia; Fitch Ratings lowered its rating on Nokia's debt further into junk status.

Fitch had previously warned it would lower its rating if it was not convinced Nokia could stabilize revenue declines and boost its margins. "The release of Nokia's Q2 results indicate that the company is currently not near this position and Fitch is not convinced that this can be attained anytime soon," it said.

For more:
- see this ZDNet article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Network World article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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