Last updated: May 24, 2011 11:09 pm

Microsoft launches handset software upgrade

Microsoft launched a new version of its Windows Phone 7 smartphone operating system in New York on Tuesday, announcing that it would power the first of a new generation of Nokia handsets due to launch late this year.

The two technology companies in April finalised a deal to team up in the smartphone market as they try to fight back against the dominance of devices such as Apple’s iPhone and those running on Google’s Android.

Andy Lees, president of Microsoft’s Mobile Communication Business, demonstrated a preview of the next version of Windows Phone software, codenamed “Mango,” which he said would be available for free to Windows Phone 7 users this autumn and described as a major upgrade, launching the next chapter in Microsoft’s mobile phone ambitions.

Microsoft launched the Phone 7 operating system seven months ago in an attempt to catch up with features found on the iPhone and Android powered smartphones. But while Phone 7 has been well-received by reviewers, it has made little headway in the market in part because of the limited number of handsets on which it is available.

Microsoft has not disclosed how many Phone 7 handsets have been sold since its launch, but Gartner, the research group, estimates that about 1.6m Phone 7 smartphones were shipped in the first quarter. Microsoft’s share of the mobile phone market in the first quarter was just 3.6 per cent however, against 36 per cent for Android-powered handsets.

Phone 7 handsets are currently available from Samsung, LG, HTC and Dell. Mr Lees said the Mango upgrade to Phone 7 would also be available on handsets from Acer, ZTE and Fujitsu. Mr Lees said the partnership with Nokia was proceeding well.

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