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Sony Ericsson to do first Windows phone

As part of an effort to boost its presence in North America, the handset maker is planning a family of Windows Mobile devices, starting with a business-oriented device due this summer.

Update: 10:25 p.m. with photo, more details

Handset maker Sony Ericsson is announcing plans for its first Windows Mobile device, a move aimed at boosting the company's presence in the North American smartphone market.

The first product is a business-oriented phone with a QWERTY keyboard, but a family of devices is expected. Over time, Microsoft hopes Sony Ericsson will leverage its camera and music expertise to help build more consumer-oriented devices.

Xperia X1 has an unusual arc slider that reveals the QWERTY keyboard. Sony Ericsson

"They've really got some great consumer brands that we'd love to partner with and bring to Windows Mobile," Microsoft Vice President Pieter Knook said in an interview.

The company is expected to have more to say about Windows Mobile in general at its press conference Monday, but Microsoft isn't announcing any details on its future operating systems. There have been rumors aplenty about both a modest update to Windows Mobile 6 and a future version that would have much more touch-screen capabilities a la the iPhone.

Knook acknowledged that Apple has included some nice features with the iPhone, particularly in the Web browser, but declined to talk about when Microsoft might incorporate some of those advances.

"We are certainly investing in the browser," Knook said. "We are certainly investing in entertainment scenarios."

Photo handling is another area he identified as important. The most recent version of Windows Mobile allows for photos to be uploaded to Windows Live Spaces, but Knook said there's more work to do on that front.

"That's still an area where the user experience is more cumbersome than it needs to be," Knook said. As for music, Knook noted the company's recent purchase of Musiwave, as well as the work being done by Microsoft's Zune team.

"We do envisage that some of those experiences will come to the Windows Mobile platform in the future," Knook said.

Update: The device will be known as the Xperia X1, featuring a 3-inch VGA display with an "arc slider" to slide out the keyboard. The device will support HSDPA and HSUPA networks, as well as Wi-Fi.