Windows Phone 7 'Released to Manufacturing'
Microsoft hit a major milestone on the road to putting Windows Phone 7 handsets on store shelves and in users' hands Wednesday when it announced that its closely watched mobile operating system has been "released to manufacturing," or RTM.
In industry parlance, RTM means that Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) work on Windows Phone 7 is virtually finished and it's off to handset makers for final integration testing and installation onto new mobile devices -- soon to go on sale.
"While the final integration of Windows Phone 7 with our partners' hardware, software, and networks is underway, the work of our internal engineering team is largely complete," Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of Windows Phone engineering, said in a post to the Windows Phone blog.
The announcement is likely to be of interest not only to consumers and developers mulling whether to invest resources in developing for the platform, but also to IT professionals who need to support mobile systems that connect to corporate networks.
For months, Microsoft has been touting the idea that Windows Phone 7 is designed for use by both consumers as well as enterprises, even though the new phones will not be able to run existing corporate applications written to run on the company's aging Windows Mobile 6.x handsets.
Myerson's post highlighted some of the metrics that he said make Windows Phone 7 the most tested mobile operating system it has ever released.
"We had nearly ten thousand devices running automated tests daily, over a half million hours of active self-hosting use, over three and a half million hours of stress test passes, and eight and a half million hours of fully automated test passes. Weve had thousands of independent software vendors and early adopters testing our software and giving us great feedback," Myerson added. "We are ready."
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer revealed Windows Phone 7 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain in mid-February with the promise that phones running it would be available for sale in time for the holiday shopping season.
The company began handing out engineering test phones to app developers and system testers in mid-July at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington.
At the same event, Microsoft debuted its developer tools for Windows Phone 7 and over the course of about a month, the company claimed the tools were downloaded 300,000 times. Those developer tools are scheduled to be finalized by Sept. 16.
Other than promising that Windows Phone 7 devices will be available in time for the holidays, however, Microsoft hasn't yet given any hints about the actual rollout date.
Microsoft did make a couple of minor updates to the code before it declared it done.
Based on feedback from testers, the system can now filter their contacts so only the Facebook friends "they really know" will show up in their contact list, a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.
"[The RTM version also] Incorporated the ability to 'like' a Facebook post from the People Hub and delivered the ability to quickly post a message to someone's Facebook wall directly," the spokesperson added.