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Microsoft's Ballmer Highlights Possible Windows Phone 7, Kinect Integration

Microsoft's Ballmer Highlights Possible Windows Phone 7, Kinect Integration

February 14, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander

February 14, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander
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Microsoft's widely viewed as a tad late to the smartphone market with its Windows Phone 7, entering a market dominated by iPhone apps as Google's Android platform also rapidly gains marketshare.

But according to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft chief exec Steve Ballmer was at Barcelona's Mobile World Congress to talk about the company's determined game plan for the device.

Different parts of Microsoft's Windows Phone plans include Twitter integration and the ability to run multiple applications at once, plus further integrations with platforms it already owns, like its Office PC software suite -- and especially its Xbox 360 gaming hardware.

Part of Microsoft's demonstration involved integration between the phone and Kinect using the Rally Ball game -- two users holding Windows 7 phones "sent" balls flying toward a screen for a third player, interacting with the Kinect camera, to dodge (see video from Engadget).

The Rally Ball portion of Ballmer's talk was billed only as a tech demo, but is another tease for what the company hopes to accomplish with its phones.

The company's long-touted eventual "deep" Xbox Live integration is a major point of differentiation for its mobile platform, aiming first for the integration of social features and then later for games that will integrate cross-platform, as new mobile GM Matt Booty told Gamasutra last fall.

And Microsoft's recently-announced partnership with mobile giant Nokia, discussed again at Ballmer's Barcelona presentation, means that Windows Phone 7 software will make its way to Nokia handheld devices later this year, a win-win: While the former needs to regain its competitive edge in the smartphone market, the latter will benefit from a much broader customer base than its platform has been able to reach yet.

Microsoft's Windows 7 mobile platform was generally perceived to have had a soft launch, seeing just 40,000 day-one units sold across the nine different phone hardware models that support it.


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