Microsoft Chief Ballmer Talks Windows Phones at Mobile World Congress

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today talked up the first major update coming to the Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system during his keynote at the Mobile World Congress (MWC).

The keynote was delivered on the heels of Ballmer's landmark deal with Nokia -- announced Friday -- to use the Windows Phone 7 mobile OS in the Finnish handset maker's smartphones.

Features coming in the 2011 Windows Phone 7 update include multitasking, a version of Internet Explorer 9, tight Twitter integration, and Office document support in the cloud, according to a Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) statement.

Microsoft plans to release a minor update to Windows Phone 7, which provides a few bug fixes and adds the ability to perform cut and paste, sometime in the next month.

Microsoft also plans to release IE9 for Windows Phone during the second half of 2011.

Of course, Ballmer and other Microsoft executives also talked up the Nokia deal as "a concrete example of the company's [Microsoft's] vision."

"This partnership will combine the strengths of our two companies, and fuel our growth as we build the global Windows Phone ecosystem. This is a great win for us, for Nokia, and for our existing and new customers around the world,” Andy Lees, president of Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business, said in a statement.

The two companies announced their deal to make Windows Phone 7 the only operating system sold on Nokia's smartphones at a strategy and financial briefing in London on Friday.

Microsoft debuted Windows Phone 7 this time last year at MWC. The first Windows Phones began shipping in the U.S. in early November.

"We are putting the entire muscle of our company behind our mobile strategy including Windows, Windows Live, Bing, Zune, Xbox Live, Office, SharePoint, Exchange, and our developer tools,” Lees said.

In its first two months on sale, operators and retailers sold two million Windows Phone-based handsets, according to Microsoft. Additionally, the company claims that phones running Windows Phone are now available in 30 countries from 60 mobile operators. It also claims to have more than 8,000 apps in its marketplace so far, all be it that's a pittance compared to iOS and Android.

Meanwhile, during his own keynote at WMC, Elop reportedly told the crowd that Microsoft had agreed to pay Nokia "billions" for its use of Microsoft's system, according to the IDG News Service.

One outstanding question remains, however, which is whether the Nokia deal will undercut Microsoft's relationships with its other OEM partners -- whether they will feel that the Finnish phone maker has an unfair advantage due to its special relationship with Microsoft.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.


Microsoft, mobile, Nokia, mobile os, Widnows Phone 7