Orange to debut Microsoft Smartphone OS

UK first
Written by Margaret Kane, Contributor

UK first

Orange is to be the first operator to use the Microsoft mobile OS Smartphone 2002. Microsoft's wireless phone software will debut later this year in the UK, a spokesman for mobile services company Orange confirmed on Friday. Orange, a division of France Telecom, will launch phones in other European countries in the following few months, said spokesman Stuart Jackson. However, sources close to Microsoft's product strategy said the UK debut could come as early as this month. Orange has 12.8 million subscribers in the UK and 18.6 million in France. Jackson could not give more information about the product or its pricing but said the new phones would be "very affordable" for UK customers, in line with standard mobile phone prices. Jackson said the Orange devices will be manufactured by Taiwan-based HTC. Microsoft's Smartphone 2002 software allows wireless phones to run personal digital assistant applications such calendars and contact lists. Microsoft has been trying to get partners for the software and has reached an agreement with AT&T Wireless to produce a phone using the Smartphone 2002 operating system possibly in mid-2003. UK manufacturer Sendo International has planned to launch a device featuring the software in Hong Kong. Mobile phone/PDA hybrids have begun to catch on. Both mobile phone makers such as Kyocera Wireless and handheld manufacturers like Handspring have entered the arena. Microsoft also makes software to enable PDAs to act like phones. That software is already in use by companies such as HP. Margaret Kane writes for CNET News.com.
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