Windows Phone 7 will only be on GSM networks at launch

Microsoft said that its forthcoming Windows Phone 7 platform will only be available on GSM networks at launch, foreclosing the possibility of launching with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) or Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S).

"For the worldwide market, the vast majority of phones are GSM phones, so we focused on GSM first and then plan to deliver an update that will have great CDMA support in the first half of 2011," Greg Sullivan, Microsoft's senior product manager, told CNet. "That's device availability in the first half and we're very confident of that. That's probably a conservative estimate."

Verizon spokeswoman Brenda Raney told Bloomberg that the carrier will not launch a Windows Phone 7 device this year, but probably will launch a Windows Phone 7 phone in 2011. Microsoft has been working to build buzz around what is widely considered a make-or-break opportunity for the software giant to re-establish itself in the mobile market.

In Microsoft's first Windows Phone 7 ad, released earlier this month, a Windows Phone 7 device appears on a desert and displays a message that declares: "The revolution is coming." Citing an unnamed source familiar with Microsoft's manufacturer and carrier agreements, TechCrunch reported last month that Microsoft will spend $1 billion on its Windows Phone 7 launch. Half of that figure will be spent on marketing and the other half on development.

In the United States, carrier support will be crucial for the platform's success. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), the nation's second largest carrier, declared earlier this summer that it will be "the premier carrier for Windows Phone 7." 

Raney told Bloomberg that Verizon's relationship with Microsoft is "solid." The two companies last year inked a five-year mobile search deal that has resulted in Verizon pre-loading Microsoft's Bing search engine on some of its smartphones running Google's Android platform.

However, in late June, due to anemic sales, Microsoft decided to quit is Kin social-networking phone project just weeks after Verizon launched two Kin phones. Verizon, meanwhile, has been a strong supporter of Android, releasing several high-profile Android gadgets this spring and summer from HTC and Motorola (NYSE:MOT).  

In other Microsoft news, a company executive said Microsoft has no plans to build its own smartphone, according to the Wall Street Journal. Tivanka Ellawala, CFO of the company's mobile communications business, said Microsoft won't build its own smartphone hardware, as it previously attempted with the Kin.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this CNet article
- see this Bloomberg article

Related Articles:
Rumor Mill: Microsoft might spend up to $1B launching Windows Phone 7
AT&T vows to become 'premier carrier for Windows Phone 7'
Rumor Mill: Microsoft launching Windows Phone 7 in October
HTC focuses on innovation despite Windows Phone 7 restrictions
Microsoft issues Windows Phone 7 technical preview
Critics applaud Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 sneak preview