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Microsoft-powered phone takes off

HTC's "Falcon," a cell phone that uses the software giant's Pocket PC Phone Edition software, gets a nod of approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

Device maker High Tech Computer has received approval from the Federal Communications Commission to begin selling the "Falcon," a cell phone powered by Microsoft's Pocket PC Phone Edition software.

An HTC representative could not be reached Thursday to comment on sales plans, but because the phone uses Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) phone networks, Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless are likely candidates for selling the device in the United States.

The Falcon, which was approved by the FCC last week, uses the more basic of Microsoft's two sets of cell phone software. Pocket PC Phone Edition phones can make calls but have a large screen and lack a number pad.

By contrast, devices running Microsoft's Smartphone 2002 operating system look like slightly bulkier cell phones, with a jog dial for one-handed dialing and for browsing contacts and other information. U.K. carrier Orange sells a Smartphone 2002 phone.

Microsoft is battling to be inside the next generation of devices that blend the functions of a phone and a PDA (personal digital assistant). However, all five of the world's top cell phone makers--Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, Samsung and Siemens--are planning to make phones using a rival operating system called Symbian. Samsung is the lone licensee of Microsoft's Smartphone software among the top five handset makers.

Microsoft recently suffered a big blow when U.K. handset maker Sendo said it dropped the software giant's Smartphone software in favor of using Symbian. A Microsoft representative declined to comment.