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HTC chief: "We are very committed to Windows Mobile"

Despite rival manufacturer Nokia working closely with Microsoft on the future of Windows Phone 7, HTC's chief executive said his company won't abandon the operating system.

Will HTC continue to make Windows Phone 7 handsets? Yes, according to chief executive Peter Chou. He was asked the question on stage during a Mobile World Congress panel session this afternoon.

It's not a silly question to ask, given Microsoft's recent buddy-buddy act with Nokia, and more importantly, the promise that Nokia's engineers will be working with their Microsoft counterparts on new features for Windows Phone 7. "I've been asked this question more than 20 times," Chou sighed, before gamely stumping up an answer for the 21st time.

"Microsoft and Nokia are doing what they have to do. It doesn't mean it's easy. But from HTC's point of view, because we have been working with Microsoft for more than a decade, we have a long, deep strategy with Microsoft. Steve [Ballmer] and I are good friends. We are very committed to Windows Mobile, and we are one of their lead partners on Windows Phone 7," Chou quoth.

It's hard to imagine the HTC boss saying anything else for now, especially in front of a huge audience of industry colleagues. If the first Nokia Windows Phone 7 handsets come out with features that aren't available on HTC models, he may not be quite so relaxed as he sounded today. "We are positive because this combination [of Microsoft and Nokia] will be sure to make the ecosystem stronger. As a strong player in Windows phones, we will be benefitting from that."

Chou also gave a speech before the panel debate got started, in which he plugged the new HTC Flyer tablet, and the Facebook-focused HTC ChaCha and HTC Salsa smart phones. He hinted at HTC's big plans for its HTCSense.com portal, which for now is focused mainly on contacts and data back-up. "That platform can also be a good groundwork for integrating other services, for example music, video or gaming," he said.

But Chou said HTC is resisting the urge to jump onto the app store bandwagon. "We are not creating another app store," he said. "We try to leverage what app stores are in the market, and listen to our customers to see what is the best experience they expect to get from that process."