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Motorola: Windows Mobile 7 will arrive in 2010

Motorola's chief executive lets it slip during his company's earnings call. Microsoft says it has "nothing to announce."

Updated at 1:15 p.m. PST with Microsoft comment and additional context.

When Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha said Tuesday that his company's phones would eventually carry Windows Mobile 7, he let on more than he probably thought.

Microsoft Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile 7 is expected to improve on Windows Mobile 6.1 (shown here). But will it be delayed until 2010? Microsoft

In answering an analyst's question during the Q-and-A portion of his company's earnings call, Jha said: "Yes, we are still committed to Windows Mobile. As you know, Windows 6 series is available in 2009 and as compared to Android, we believe in 2009 Android is more competitive; more of our effort and focus in 2009 is going to Android, but in 2010 when Windows 7 will become available, we will then participate in a more focused way in Windows Mobile 7 in 2010."

Without commenting on Jha's comment, a Microsoft representative said the company has "nothing to announce today."

In September, CNET News reported that Microsoft told its partners not to expect Windows Mobile 7 until at least the second half of 2009. Jha's comment seems to indicate that the deadline has been pushed back even further.

The software maker has been counting on the next version of Windows Mobile to enable devices that better rival Apple's iPhone. Among the features widely expected to be part of the release is advanced gesture recognition, perhaps along the lines of the iPhone, but possibly also using the camera as a means for reading gestures.

Microsoft has been quiet for some time on the Windows Mobile front, but that's expected to change later this month when CEO Steve Ballmer gives a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona. The company has said to expect news on the operating system, partner, and mobile services fronts.

Although Windows Mobile 7 is probably a ways off, the company has said it is working on some sort of interim release, dubbed Windows Mobile 6.5, and has also promised better browsing and other features will come this year. In an interview last month, mobile unit head Andy Lees acknowledged the company has some catching up to do.

"You are going to see a bunch of announcements at Mobile World Congress but also it is going to be the beginning of a 12-, 18-month period where you are going to see a whole bunch of different stuff," Lees said. In addition to the traditional operating system unit, Microsoft has a fairly secretive "premium mobile services" group under Roz Ho that has been working on a variety of projects over the last couple of years. That group also includes the team Microsoft picked up when it bought Sidekick maker Danger. Separately, Microsoft's Windows Live unit is also working on a new wave of services for Windows Mobile, Lees said

CNET News' Ina Fried contributed to this report.