Ina Fried

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Microsoft’s Windows Phone Boss Says Dual-Core, LTE Models Coming

Sales of the first crop of Windows Phones may have been less than CEO Steve Ballmer was hoping for, but Windows Phone unit boss Andy Lees said the company met its more important goal — becoming credible again in the phone market.

While Lees would not provide any numeric goals for the coming year, he said that the company hopes to emerge as a solid No. 3 platform and a viable alternative to Apple and Android. Microsoft recently released the first major update to Windows Phone 7 — known as Mango.

“We’re not making specific predictions but I think that our momentum is going to build,” Lees said. “Our first [release] was about mindshare, and really getting the credibility, and I think [Mango] is really about starting to build unit volume and market share.”

Ahead of last week’s iPhone 4S announcement, Lees told AllThingsD he was feeling pretty good about where the company was positioned against the competition.

As for why none of the Windows Phone models have either dual-core processors or support for faster LTE networks, Lees said that both are coming. On the dual-core front, he said that the current crop of Windows Phones should hold up well even against dual-core Android models.

“They’re all single core, but I suspect that they will be faster in usage than any dual-core phone that you put against it, and that’s the point,” Lees told AllThingsD in an interview last week. But, he insisted, Microsoft isn’t opposed to dual-core chips, but wanted to wait until the software was more ready to take advantage of multiple cores.

When it comes to LTE, Lees said that Microsoft and its partners wanted to wait until the faster networks could be supported in a less power-hungry way.

“The first LTE phones were big and big (users) of the battery, and I think it’s possible to do it in a way that is far more efficient, and that’s what we will be doing,” Lees said. LTE models are on the way, he said, but he declined to say whether the first models would arrive this year or next.

Lees rejected the idea that the lack of both features should be taken as a sign that Microsoft won’t be at the cutting edge.

“So, I think that what our strategy is is to put things in place that allow us to leapfrog, and I think that’s how we’ve gone from worse browser to the best browser, and I think the same is true with hardware,” Lees said.

One of the other key recent developments was Microsoft’s patent deal with Samsung — a deal that Lees said also includes a commitment to step up its support of Windows Phone, signs of which Lees said will become evident next year.

“I think that the agreement that we have with Nokia, it’s obviously a particularly special one, they’re exclusive to us, and we have a very, very deep partnership, and I think that Samsung is not quite as deep a dependence as the Nokia one, but it’s certainly in that vein,” Lees said. Nokia is due to release its first Windows Phone devices before the end of the year, with a steady crop of new phones due out over the course of 2012.

Microsoft is already hard at work on the next major version of Windows Phone, Lees said. The company may or may not do a minor update before that release.

“Pace is just incredibly important,” Lees said. “If your pace is too short, then the magnitude of what you can deliver gets limited because of the time it takes to do all of the testing required to ship at very, very high quality. Having said that, what you don’t want to do is just have huge, great long release times where you’re out of the market.”

Lees, of course, will have more to say later this month when he appears on the AsiaD stage in Hong Kong. Among the other mobile bigwigs set to appear are Google’s Andy Rubin, as well as executives from HTC, Samsung and Huawei.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus