NEW YORK — One of the keys to success for Microsoft’s new phone Windows Phone 7 is support from wireless carriers. The carriers control the store display and how well sales people are trained. They also design and buy advertising for specific phones. The level of support from Verizon Wireless was one reason the Microsoft Kin phone sold poorly this year and was canceled shortly after it launched.
At a Microsoft launch event Monday in New York, AT&T Wireless said customers are going to notice Windows Phones when they walk into their stores. The company is setting up a Windows Phone area in its 2,300 stores, and in a few hundred they will have a blown up Microsoft station with a netbook and the Xbox 360 video game system.
“Take everything you knew about Windows Mobile 6.5 and call it mobile history. This is the mobile future,” said Michael Woodward, vice president for AT&T’s consumer mobile device portfolio. “We’re going to treat this completely differently.”
AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile USA will carry the phones in the U.S., and Microsoft said more than 60 carriers will sell the phone in 30 countries.
The company will offer three devices for $199.99 with a two-year contract. The first device, the Samsung Focus, will start selling on Nov. 8. Microsoft will begin television advertising for the whole Windows Phone platform on Oct. 25, and AT&T Wireless will start advertising for its devices on Nov. 8.
AT&T Wireless and Microsoft are also doing a mall tour in 27 markets with staff from both companies offering a place to try out the device.
AT&T Wireless, the exclusive carrier for Apple’s iPhone, has been fighting complaints from users over dropped calls and lack of coverage on the network.
“We’ve been investing in the network heavily. The network is getting faster all the time,” Woodward said. “We’ve put in 2,000 additional cell sites, we’ve invested tremendous network in improving the network. The future of wireless is data and we’re going to continue investing in that.”
Woodward said the Windows Phone is different from what’s already out there from Apple, Android and Blackberry.
“We think it’s a game changer in smartphones,” said Michael Woodward, vice president of mobile device portfolio for consumers at AT&T Wireless. “It’s a totally new UI [user interface].”
He especially liked the ability to customize the home screen, rather than looking at a “sea of icons,” he said. For instance, he likes how the calendar is integrated with the map application so he can click on a meeting, then look up directions without having to switch between applications. “It keeps you from having to having to click into application, backing up and going into another application. We think it’s very elegant as well.”