AT&T to continue as Nokia's lead Windows Phone rollout partner?

Two new Nokia Lumia devices are reportedly on deck to be among the new Windows Phone 8 handsets that will debut this fall.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

There still may be no software development kit available yet for Windows Phone 8, but there are plenty of rumors and reports about rollout plans for the next-generation devices.


On August 23, The Verge reported (based on unnamed "sources familiar with the company's plans") that Nokia is planning to take the wraps off two new Lumia handsets -- codenamed "Arrow" and "Phi" for which AT&T will be the main carrier -- on September 5.  LiveSide.net also recently published information about the rumored 4.7-inch Nokia Phi.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported (based on information from "a person with knowledge of the matter") that Nokia and Verizon will be delivering Windows Phone 8 devices before the end of calendar 2012. Verizon officials -- along with execs from AT&T, T-Mobile, and other U.S. carriers -- already had said publicly they would be offering new Windows Phone 8 devices, but hadn't said they'd be Nokia phones.

I haven't received any scuttlebutt on new Windows Phone 8 devices in the pipeline or on what Microsoft and Nokia will show and tell on September 5. Microsoft and Nokia have invited select press and analysts to a New York City event, but haven't disclosed particulars of what will be discussed there.

The most recent information I had indicated that Microsoft was endeavoring to release to manufacturing (RTM) the Windows Phone 8 operating system in September, in preparation for new phone availability in November. Microsoft officials have not shared RTM or general availability dates for Windows Phone 8 beyond saying new devices would be out some time this fall.

Redmond execs also have said that Microsoft is still on track to deliver the Windows Phone 8 software development kit "this summer," which I'd take to mean within the next week or so.

In the U.S., AT&T has been Microsoft's lead partner for Nokia devices. Microsoft, Nokia and AT&T committed to putting major marketing money and muscle behind the Nokia re-launch in the U.S.

I'd be very surprised if Nokia and AT&T have new Windows Phone 8 devices out in consumers' hands before October or November of this year. I'm betting the scheduled September 5 Microsoft-Nokia event in New York will be another attempted appetite-whetter, similar to the June 20 announcement where Microsoft officials revealed a number of the new features slated to debut with Windows Phone 8. Maybe we'll even hear about some of the expected, but still unannounced Windows Phone 8 features like the replacement for the Zune PC software client; whether/how Mobile Internet Explorer 10 will include proxy support (like Amazon's Silk); and data-metering support.

Windows Phone 8 is Microsoft's planned reset of its Windows Phone platform. Among the new features that will be part of the operating system (codenamed "Apollo") are an update to the tiled user interface, multicore support, NFC/Wallet support, removable Micro SD card storage, encryption and secure boot. Existing Windows Phone devices will not get the new OS, but will get the new UI, via a Windows Phone 7.8 refresh.

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