The market trials were announced at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes last week, where the company also said that two new partners, UK manufacturer Sendo and Mitsubishi, will compete with Samsung in the Stinger market. The phones will offer larger colour screens and faster Internet access than that currently offered by Wap phones. They will also provide e-mail, diary, contacts and to-do features.
Stinger is Microsoft's smartphone platform, effectively a subset of the Windows CE 3.0 operating system used on PocketPC handheld devices. It has been optimised for mobile phones to reduce memory requirements and extend battery life.
"It is critical to ensure that the handsets which come to market can deliver the type of advanced functionality and benefits promised to the end-user," said Ben Waldman, vice-president of mobile devices at Microsoft.
Microsoft is making a belated move into the mobile market to ensure it does not get left behind as companies move away from a reliance on desktop PCs. Last year, it released the PocketPC operating system for handhelds and Mobile Explorer, an Internet browser for mobile phones, hoping to capture sales through users' familiarity with Windows.
Also at 3GSM, Siemens, now the second largest mobile phone manufacturer, announced that its third generation mobile phones will use the competing Symbian operating system, developed by a group of mobile device manufacturers headed by Psion.