Microsoft Corp's mobile handset dreams are finally set to become reality this month as the first Windows Smartphone 2002-powered device hits the shops, care of Orange SA.
The mobile unit of France Telecom SA plans to launch the phone, built by Microsoft embedded OS enthusiast High Tech Computer Corp (HTC), in the UK before the end of the month.
Reports suggest that Orange's new smart phone will be priced well below rival UK operator mmO2 Plc's Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition-based XDA, one of the few other Microsoft-powered wireless devices currently on the market.
The XDA is also made by Taipei, Taiwan-based HTC, which makes an almost identical device, the MDA, for T-Mobile's operations in Germany and the USA. It is unclear whether HTC will offer derivatives of Orange's new smart phone to other operators.
Orange's and HTC's new handset beats the long-gestating Smartphone 2002-based Z100 from Birmingham, UK-based Sendo Holdings Ltd. After numerous delays, Sendo now expects the Z100 to reach European stores during November, with Cingular Wireless set to offer the device in the US before the end of the year.
Other Smartphone 2002 handsets are currently in development by South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Taiwan's Compal Electronics Inc, and China's TCL Mobile.
However, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft's failure for the most part to hook up with the world's largest handset vendors, which with the exception of Samsung are solely committed to the rival Symbian OS, will affect Smartphone's chances of prospering.