The introduction of the new phone today (22 October) is a key step in Microsoft's strategy for mobile computing. Orange is the first major operator to deploy Microsoft's new Windows Smartphone 2000 software that was introduced last February.
Ben Wood, senior analyst, mobile, at Gartner, said: "This will be a significant breakthrough for Microsoft, particularly as it will signal the first commercial availability of a product using Microsoft's Smartphone 2002 operating system."
However, he said Microsoft faces stiff competition from established phone operating system manufacturers. "Microsoft remains the underdog in this market effectively locked out by Symbian which has over 70% of the world's mobile phone manufacturing (by shipment volume)." Microsoft is keen to carve a slice of the mobile market, which saw over 400 million units ship last year.
"It owns the desktop, has gained momentum on PDAs. The next step is mobile phones," said Wood. This week will also see the launch of Vodafone's Live! Multimedia messaging service. "It's a battle of the two biggest brands," said Wood.