Neowin first reported over a week ago that Microsoft was planning a Starter version of its mobile operating system. But that news was overshadowed by all the Windows Phone 7 Series hoopla from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Windows Phone Starter is similar in concept to the original Windows Starter Edition products. Windows XP and Windows Vista Starter were products exclusively tailored for emerging markets. With Windows 7, Microsoft broadened the availability of the Starter Edition to include all countries, with Home Basic becoming the new emerging-market-only SKU. So far, it seems as though Phone Starter is going to be an emerging-market play only and not a low-end platform for users in developed countries.
As Neowin noted, Windows Phone Starter will be available in two versions (one with Office Mobile and one without).
It took a while, but here are some more details about the product, supplied via a Microsoft mobile spokesperson:
Q: Is Mobile Starter available to phone makers via Bsqure only? Or also direct from Microsoft? A: The Windows Phone 6 Starter Edition SKU is available to all direct partners. It is also available via MediaTek and BSquare.
Q: Which version of Office Mobile is part of one of the two Starter SKUs? A: The current version of Office Mobile will ship in Windows Phone 6 Starter Edition. Office Mobile 2010 is currently available in beta form for Windows Phone 6.5. When Office Mobile 2010 ships, it will be made available to OEMs and distributors.
Q: Is this a stripped-down version of Windows Mobile 6.5? What’s not there that’s in the full fledged version? A: The Windows Phone 6 Starter Edition SKU is offered in multi-language versions with and without Microsoft Office Mobile and supports 2G (GSM), 2.5G (CDMA2000 xRTT, EDGE, GPRS), CDMA (Rev A, EV-DO Revision A), and TD-SCDMA radios.
Q: Pricing? A: We do not share pricing information for OEMs
Q: Will there be a Starter SKU for all Windows Mobile OSes going forward? A: We have no announcements to make at this time.
Q: Have any phone makers signed up yet as customers? A: Yes. OEMs will be launching products built on Windows Phone 6 Starter Edition this year.