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Windows Phone 7 launch brings slew of phones (live blog)

CNET's Ina Fried, Bonnie Cha, and Caroline McCarthy live-blog the N.Y. launch of Microsoft's long-awaited phone OS, which brings with it new handsets from Dell, HTC, Samsung, and LG.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveils the new Windows Phone 7 series.
Behold, the first round of handsets packing the new Windows Phone 7 operating system, arrayed in front of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the company's New York event.
Microsoft Photo/Jason DeCrow

Editors' note: We used Cover It Live for this event, so if you missed the live blog, you can still replay it in the embedded component below. Replaying the event will give you all the live updates along with commentary and questions from our readers. For those of you who just want the basic updates, we've included them in regular text here. To get the key points from today's Windows Phone 7 announcement, you can check out our summary post here.

Transcript of live blog starts here--note that all times given below are in Eastern Daylight Time, since the event took place in New York:

9:21 a.m. EDT (Ina Fried): OK, gang, it's 9:20, and we're seated. Bonnie Cha and I are here. D-Lite's "Groove Is In the Heart" is playing, and we're on the edge of our stylish but o-so-uncomfy clear Lucite seats.

9:25 a.m. (Ina Fried): We're in Chelsea in a warehouse. To get to the launch room, we rode an elevator that was totally reminiscent of the Haunted House ride at Disneyland. About 5 minutes 'til the news goes live. Probably a few minutes after that, the event will start.

9:26 a.m. [Comment from reader Carlos]: Good Morning Ina!!!

9:26 a.m. (Ina Fried): Good morning, to folks on the East Coast. Good afternoon, to those in Europe and, wow, you are up way too early, to folks on the West Coast.

9:26 a.m. [Comment from reader PJS]: Hey Ina, did you get any SWAG yet?

9:26 a.m. (Ina Fried): No swag yet. I'll let you know...

9:27 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): Hi everyone, I'm here to help out with the Windows 7 launch. Like Ina said, it's in a weird old warehouse building with a big post-industrial elevator to take us all up.

9:27 a.m. [Comment from reader Ben]: Is there going to video coverage?

9:27 a.m. (Ina Fried): Microsoft is live-streaming the event. We'll also have video highlights later today.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

9:28 a.m. (Ina Fried): If they were giving away swag, I'd recommend seat cushions. These chairs are a lot prettier than they are functional.

9:29 a.m. [Comment from reader Luc]: No hearse or Thriller dance in view ?

9:29 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): The techno music is a bit "Thriller"-esque

9:29 a.m. (Ina Fried): No hearse or "Thriller." There are some black limos out front, but no hearses.

Bonnie Cha/CNET

9:30 a.m. (Ina Fried): And greetings to Caroline McCarthy, the third member of our exclusive, live team coverage hear at Storm Central. (Wait, I guess that's a bad name for a non-RIM smartphone event)

9:30 a.m. (Bonnie Cha): Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us!

9:32 a.m. (Ina Fried): OK, it's 9:30, so we can spill the remaining secrets. AT&T will have phones November 8; T-Mobile just a bit later in November, as expected. EA is bringing a bunch of games, including The Sims. I'll include some links to some stories in a sec.

9:33 a.m. (Bonnie Cha): T-Mobile introduces the HTC HD7, Dell Venue Pro:

9:35 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): I'll be monitoring the #wp7 hashtag on Twitter and adding updates to the live blog.

9:35 a.m. (Bonnie Cha): AT&T will launch three devices: The HTC Surround, Samsung Focus, and LG Quantum.

9:35 a.m. (Ina Fried): Here's a link to a story that just went live on how Microsoft plans to pitch Windows Phone 7:

There are some clever ads that show that people engrossed in their smartphones and show Windows Phone as the way to get in, get out, and get back to your real life.

9:35 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): With regard to the fact that the press conference is starting late, Twitter user @poleydee says, "10 minutes til #wp7 Apparently, Mr ballmer delayed getting on. Eye of the tiger CD was broke and they had to download from itunes maybe?"

9:37 a.m. [Comment from reader Franc]: About how many people would you say are there?

9:37 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): Hey Franc, not that many--maybe 200?

9:37 a.m. (Ina Fried): We should play Price is Right. I say 175.

9:37 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): Announcer says presentation will begin in "just one minute." 60, 59, 58...

9:39 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): Lights go down...

9:39 a.m. (Bonnie Cha): Here we go.

9:40 a.m. (Ina Fried): "I've been looking forward to this day for some time, I would say," [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer says, kicking things off.

9:41 a.m. (Ina Fried): "Windows Phone...a different kind of phone" reads the slide behind Ballmer. Ballmer says Microsoft's energy focused on helping real people do what they want with a phone.

"We want to let you get in, out, and back to life," and have that be as fast and as simple as humanly possible.

9:41 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): Ballmer: "the differences in the Windows Phone are as much about not just what you're going to do with the phone but how you're going to do it. We've really put our energy and our design creativity into bringing together the things that you love."

9:41 a.m. [Comment from reader Vincent Malig]: Are you going to give the streaming-video coverage?

9:42 a.m. (Ina Fried): "Always delightful and wonderfully mine." Wanted it to be delightful and still have a range of devices.

9:42 a.m. (Bonnie Cha): @Vincent: No live streaming, but we'll have video highlights and hands-on videos of the devices later today.

9:43 a.m. (Ina Fried): On it being "wonderfully mine": "Everybody should be able to take a look at a Windows Phone and say I can represent me."

Bonnie Cha/CNET

9:43 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): Lots of people using Twitter hashtag #wp7 reacting with a bit of skepticism to the "always delightful and wonderfully mine" mission statement.

9:43 a.m. (Ina Fried): A reference to the ability to customize with things like one's avatar, home screen. He shows his avatar, a bald guy with the gamer tag Iluvmsft.

9:44 a.m. (Ina Fried): "It's got to me mine," he said. There will be nine phones, when Windows Phone ships in U.S. in November. From Dell, HTC, Samsung, and LG.

9:45 a.m. (Ina Fried): He's got all 9 devices in front of him. Dell's, which I hadn't seen, has a more rugged look, with a slide-out keyboard.

9:45 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): Ballmer really seems to be pitching ubercustomization and uberpersonalization as an implicit contrast to the fact that there's "only one" iPhone.

9:46 a.m. (Ina Fried): Ballmer says, "We think it is important to have consistent delight and let people have a series of choices." (Phones that slid out on a rotating carousel have now gone backstage--hopefully not for a battery charge.)

9:46 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): The table with the nine phones on it was just brought offstage on some kind of motorized track. Unexpected.

9:47 a.m. (Ina Fried): Ballmer introduces ATT Mobility President Ralph de la Vega.

9:47 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): From Twitter user @fastchicken: "Balmer really is a salesman. Which isn't a good thing when you are pushing a vision, not a product. Shows just how good Jobs's is. #wp7"

9:48 a.m. [Comment from reader Brad]: You mentioned AT&T and T-Mobile Win7 phones, any word on Sprint availability?

9:48 a.m. (Ina Fried): "Congratulations on a great Windows Phone 7," de la Vega says. AT&T and Microsoft have a long history of working together. They launched the first Windows mobile device in 2003. (Microsoft and AT&T also partner on U-verse TV, which uses Microsoft's Mediaroom operating system. De la Vega is now giving a sales pitch.)

9:48 a.m. (Bonnie Cha): @Brad: Windows Phone 7 will launch only on GSM carriers this year. CDMA phones--Verizon and Sprint--will come the first half of next year.

9:48 a.m. (Ina Fried): De la Vega notes that he sees a lot of smartphone OSes. "When Steve and his team showed us Windows Phone 7, we knew it was going to be a winner."

9:49 a.m. (Ina Fried): Three devices from LG, HTC, and Samsung are coming November 8, including the LG Quantum, with keyboard.

9:50 a.m. (Ina Fried): The Quantum will be priced at $199.99.

9:51 a.m. (Ina Fried): The HTC Surround is aimed at media and gaming enthusiasts, with 16GB of on board storage. It is the only smartphone with Dolby surround-sound speakers that slide up: "You've got to hear this to experience it." It also has a kickstand. Also $199.99.

9:51 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): From Twitter user @chrissharp: "9 launch devices for #wp7 - 9!? aren't consumers going to suffer paralysis of choice?" -- This is exactly the contrast between the iPhone "universal phone for everyone" strategy and the Windows Phone 7 pitch.

9:51 a.m. (Ina Fried): The Samsung Focus has the best-looking screen of the Windows Phones, De la Vega says. It has a 5-megapixel camera, and it is the thinnest Windows phone in the U.S., at 9.9 millimeters thick. Also priced at $199.

9:52 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): On the other hand, from Gartenberg: "Nine phones at launch is impressive. Shows proper momentum. #wp7"

9:52 a.m. (Ina Fried): The HTC Surround and Samsung Focus are coming "a few weeks later" than the LG, which is coming November 8.

9:53 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): The HTC Surround, with its Dolby surround-sound speakers, is getting a lot of excited gadget freak buzz on Twitter.

9:53 a.m. (Ina Fried): U-verse coming to Windows Phone for both current subscribers and new users. De la Vega also says ATT will, in the next few weeks, let Xbox 360 owners use the console to get U-verse TV -- something Microsoft promised was coming years ago but is finally here.

9:53 a.m. (Ina Fried): Ballmer is back.

9:54 a.m. (Ina Fried): And it's demo time. Starring Joe Belfiore, one of the main designers on the phone product.

9:54 a.m [Comment from reader Mark]: Has there been any mention of Zune Pass streaming on these devices?

9:54 a.m. (Ina Fried): The Zune has not been mentioned yet, but there is Zune streaming. I'm sure that we'll get that in the demo.

9:55 a.m. [Comment from reader BD]: Any mention of cost for use of U-verse on Windows phone?

9:55 a.m. (Ina Fried): Not specifically. Got the sense U-verse might be free for existing subscribers and available for "a low monthly fee" for nonsubscribers.

9:57 a.m. (Ina Fried): Belfiore is showing the home screen, which lets you know how many messages you have, plus details on your next appointment, even before you unlock. Now he's showing the home screen with its live tiles.

9:57 a.m. (Ina Fried): On Belfiore's phone are tiles for Ballmer and Andy Lees, as well as Twitter, eBay, IMDb, and the aforementioned AT&T U-verse service.

9:58 a.m. (Ina Fried): Belfiore just deleted Steve Ballmer's Live Tile and is adding his wife higher on the home screen. "It's about the people you care about," Belfiore said.

9:58 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): Windows Phone and #wp7 are now both trending topics on Twitter.

9:59 a.m. (Ina Fried): Belfiore is demoing a cool picture-taking feature. Press the camera button, and the phone wakes directly to camera, bypassing the home screen.

9:59 a.m. [Comment from reader tbrocato]: will you have some hands-on time with the new phones today?

10:00 a.m. (Bonnie Cha): @tbrocato: Yes, we'll have photos, videos, and first impressions.

10:00 a.m. (Ina Fried): Also shows how it's easy to share photos. Photos can also be uploaded to the cloud automatically. (I love taking pictures--and this is one of the cool things on Windows Phone 7.)

10:01 a.m. [Comment From sengkh]: more pictures pls.

10:01 a.m. (Ina Fried): The demo moves on to e-mail. His Exchange account shows a suggestion that he not wear jeans with holes in them today. (He's not.)

10:02 a.m. (Bonnie Cha): @sengkh: They're coming. I got knocked offline for a few minutes.

10:03 a.m (Caroline McCarthy): From Twitter user @DerickP: "On one end you've got an iDictatorship... and on the other you've got Androidarchy. Where's the happy medium? #Android #iPhone #wp7 @Google"

10:03 a.m. (Ina Fried): Yep, @DerickP, that's what Microsoft is aiming for -- more choice than Apple, but more consistency than Android.

10:04 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): Well, this is one way to put it, from Twitter user @HWGeeks: "Noooooooooo they put power point onto the phone #wp7 I am tired of ppt." It did look pretty impressive.

10:04 a.m. (Ina Fried): Now Belfiore is demoing the auto-correct feature of the typing. It is really good. He's making tons of typos, and all but one were fixed. "Come on, that was pretty good," Belfiore said.

10:05 a.m. (Caroline McCarthy): From Twitter user @raymondjwlau: "Wow, if there's one reason to get #WP7, it's Office Mobile 2010."

<05 a.m. fried>05>




The Windows Phone 7 Start screen is a complete departure from Windows Mobile. Bonnie Cha/CNET

shown at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona early this yearnow finalizedwon't run on Sprint or Verizon until next year

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