Microsoft ships Windows Phone 7 devices to developers

Microsoft has finished the Technical Preview of Windows Phone 7, the absolute earliest build of the new mobile operating system that is ready for field testing, and is shipping it out on prototype devices from Asus, LG, and Samsung, the company reported today.

As Microsoft noted last week when it released the updated Windows Phone Developer Toolkit, devices with a pseudo-beta version of Windows Phone 7 have begun shipping to developers, carriers, and partners. The new mobile operating system is still quite a few months away from being ready for release, and there isn't yet a version for consumers to check out, but this marks the "home stretch" for platform development. The company expects the first Windows Phone 7 devices to be released in time for the holiday shopping season this year.

Microsoft has effectively abandoned the legacy Windows Mobile interface in favor of one styled after the Zune, and the first user reviews of this early build have been remarkably favorable.

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But the true focus of today's announcement is, again, the development community, whose support is integral to the success of Windows Phone 7. Windows Phone Engineering Corporate Vice President Terry Myerson said yesterday that more than 1,000 Microsoft employees have been using WP7 as their primary phone for several months, and tests have been run on more than 10,000 different devices in Microsoft's labs, but it will take a lot of feedback from developers and users in the real world to get Windows Phone 7 running for real.

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