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Windows Phone users: LTE models may be closer than you think

Microsoft and partners are ready to launch at least three new LTE Windows Phone models in the first half of 2012, according to reports.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Word has begun leaking out -- thanks in large part to Windows SuperSite's Paul Thurrott -- as to what U.S. users of Windows Phone can expect in early 2012.

Thurrott doesn't say in his December 29 post about new LTE phones and carriers where he got his information. When I asked him, he said his information came from "internal documentation."  So it sounds to me like this is, indeed, what Microsoft and partners are likely to be planning to disclose at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

According to Thurrott, there are three LTE-based Windows Phone handsets that will ship on AT&T before the middle of 2012 --the Nokia ACE, HTC Radiant, and Samsung Mendel. (The ACE is due March 18, he says.) He also reports that the Nokia Lumia 710 (which Microsoft and Nokia have already confirmed will be out in mid-January on T-Mobile) will be available on Verizon in April 2012. The Lumia 710 is not an LTE device, which makes Verizon's supposed ultimatum -- LTE or else, Microsoft -- somewhat toothless.

(Nokia is slated to hold a press conference at CES on January 9, the same day that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be keynoting as part of Microsoft's final CES appearance.)

There's no word in Thurrott's post as to when/if Verizon will add any Windows Phones supporting LTE to its lineup. So far, there's still only one Windows Phone available on Verizon: The first-generation HTC Trophy.

One thing we still don't know is whether the new LTE devices will be running something beyond the "Mango" Windows Phone operating system. Last year I heard there were two "Tango" releases coming after Mango (known internally as Tango 1 and Tango 2). Tango 1, according to my contacts, was focused on adding support in new markets. Tango 2 supposedly was/is focused on bringing Windows Phone to lower priced smartphones. The next major Windows Phone operating system update, codenamed "Apollo," supposedly is a late 2012 release -- as I noted way back in December 2010.

One other note: I've refrained from commenting on all the posts this week about why Windows Phone has sold so abysmally to date. I feel like we know the answers (at least in the U.S.): Microsoft was late to market and didn't feel the need to pay carrier-store reps commissions or engage in guerrilla marketing.

It's worth remembering that Microsoft many times grows its share simply by waiting for its competitors to stumble. That's what happened with the Xbox. It could happen -- aided by a push from Microsoft on the legal front (in Android's case, at least) -- in phones.

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