Ina Fried

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Exclusive: New Boss Acknowledges Windows Phone Still Has “Awareness Problem”

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talks Windows Phone with Ryan Seacrest at CES

New Windows Phone boss Terry Myerson was looking at the phone section of Amazon late last year and noticed that three of the best-reviewed phones were running his operating system. But the three best sellers were Android models.

Myerson took a screenshot of the pages and included them in a memo to the entire Windows Phone team.

“We have an awareness problem,” Myerson told AllThingsD in his first extended interview since he replaced Andy Lees as overall head of the Windows Phone business in December.

CEO Steve Ballmer has praised the work the Windows Phone team has done, but also noted that sales haven’t been what he would have hoped.

“People just don’t know about Windows Phone and if it could be for them and if they should consider it,” Myerson said. “When people try it, they generally love it.”

Myerson didn’t offer a ton of details on how Microsoft will go about getting people more familiar with Windows Phone, but said that is his first objective.

“We know we need to do something new and different,” Myerson said.

Microsoft has also had a challenge getting much love from either Sprint or Verizon. Redmond was late with support for their CDMA networks and both have offered only the barest of Windows Phone lineups.

“We’re working on a relationship with both of them,” Myerson said. Asked whether the ill-fated Kin project might have soured Verizon on Microsoft, he said simply that the company needed a partnership with Verizon in which both parties see benefit. “It’s important in the U.S. that we do that.”

The big news for Microsoft at the Consumer Electronics Show, of course, was the announcement by Nokia that it is readying the Lumia 900, an LTE-based Windows Phone, exclusively for AT&T. However, Nokia and AT&T declined to comment on when the phone would arrive beyond saying it would be “in the coming months.”

T-Mobile is also starting this week to sell the Lumia 710, the entry-level model in Nokia’s lineup.

Microsoft is also working on the next major release of Windows Phone, though Myerson wouldn’t offer any details. Word on what’s in that release might not even come at next month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, suggesting that last fall’s Mango release (or a minor update to it) will be at the core of Windows Phones for a while.


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