Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

With Glitzy N.Y. Event, Microsoft Aiming — Again — to Make Windows Phone a Bigger U.S. Presence

A year on, and despite positive reviews, Microsoft is still trying to make a big splash with Windows Phone.

Although the operating system has received praise from reviewers and high satisfaction levels from customers, sales of devices running the software have been markedly less than the company had hoped for.

Having released a major update to its software and with hardware makers ready with a new crop of devices, Microsoft is launching another huge marketing push for Windows Phone. That effort is kicking off Monday with an event in Herald Square that features a six-story-tall functional replica of a Windows Phone.

The giant phone is designed to highlight what makes Windows Phone different, namely its live tiles and its hubs centered around things like music, people and games. At the event in Herald Square, the tiles will open up, with real people coming out to perform the activities marked by the tile.

From the AccuWeather tile, a real-life weatherman will pop forth to deliver a forecast. A concert will take place from where the music hub is located, while a re-enactment of Plants vs. Zombies will spew out of the games hub.

The theatrics are timed to coincide with the arrival of the first new devices to run the Mango release of Windows Phone 7 — a significant update that adds improved multitasking, better browsing and Twitter integration, among other features.

T-Mobile has already started selling a Mango-powered phone from HTC, while AT&T is launching two new devices from Samsung. Microsoft will look to boost sales of the devices by kicking in an undisclosed boatload of money for the hardware makers and operators to advertise their wares.

Windows Phone head Andy Lees has said Microsoft is counting on 2011 to be the year when its phone efforts finally add up to some real market share, though it hasn’t offered up any specific targets.

Whatever those goals may be, Microsoft will face a challenging environment.

Even without radically new hardware, Apple has been riding high with the release of the iPhone 4S and Google continues to benefit from the fact that most of the world’s hardware makers and phone operators are backing Android. And, while the first Nokia-made Windows Phones are finally hitting the market in Europe, the company won’t launch products in the U.S. until next year.

Lees talked about the challenges and opportunities at last month’s AsiaD event in Hong Kong. And, in a spate of good timing, the full video of his chat has just been posted.

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