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Windows 10 Mobile rollout to begin in December

The new software will appear on two new Lumia smartphones in November. After that, it starts to land on older Lumias.

Windows 10 Mobile will start rolling out in December, but Microsoft needs a new strategy to stay in the mobile game. Nate Ralph/CNET

Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile software will roll out just before the year ends, according to a Facebook post from the company's Lumia team.

Following a Microsoft event on Tuesday to introduce Windows 10 devices, several users posting on the Microsoft Lumia page asked when Windows 10 Mobile would be available. The Lumia team responded that broad availability of Windows 10, including on mobile phones, will begin in December.

Ahead of that, Windows 10 Mobile will make an appearance on Microsoft's newest smartphones, the Lumia 950 and the Lumia 950 XL , which will reach consumers in November. Come December, the first wave of older Lumia models (including the 430, the 535 and the 930) are scheduled to get a free upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile, according to Microsoft's Lumia page.

Other phones will likely have to wait until 2016 to receive Windows 10. Microsoft has stated that it intends to push Windows 10 Mobile to the majority of Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1 as long as they have at least 8 GB of internal storage.

The new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL and Windows 10 Mobile are Microsoft's latest attempt to breathe some life into its mobile phone lineup. Apple and Android continue to dominate the mobile landscape, with Microsoft's share of the smartphone market relegated to less than 3 percent, according to research firm ComScore. Few other smartphone vendors have built Windows phones, so Microsoft is virtually alone in this battle.

Some critics have called on Microsoft to cut its losses and abandon its mobile phone business. But the company could have another idea up its sleeve. Just as Microsoft unveiled its new Surface Book on Tuesday to redefine the laptop market, the company could conceivably cook up a Surface smartphone. This is speculation for now, but Microsoft needs to rethink the mobile phone market if it wants to stay in the game.

"For Microsoft to move out of the mobile niche it is in, Microsoft needs to reinvent smartphone hardware with a new form factor," research firm IHS said Tuesday. "Microsoft needs to create a smartphone which has the equivalent effect to the Surface Pro's impact on the laptop PC."

Neither of the new Lumia smartphones does the trick, the firm said. "When they do find such a design, IHS recommends Microsoft should drop the Lumia brand in favor of a new fresh smartphone brand, such as launching a 'Surface Smartphone.'"