When Windows Phone 7 arrives later this year, it will be sold globally, but only for GSM networks. Microsoft has opted to delay until next year the CDMA version as it works to finish work on its major rewrite of its phone operating system.
"We had to make some trade-offs," senior product manager Greg Sullivan told CNET today. "Even Microsoft doesn't have unlimited resources. We had to prioritize doing fewer things, really, really well."
The company made the decision to delay the CDMA version earlier this year but had declined to publicly confirm it until now. While GSM is much more widely used in Europe, the decision means that Windows Phone 7 won't be available on two of the four major U.S. networks at launch--Sprint and Verizon.
"For the worldwide market, the vast majority of phones are GSM phones, so we focused on GSM first and then plan to deliver an update that will have great CDMA support in the first half of 2011," Sullivan said. "That's device availability in the first half and we're very confident of that. That's probably a conservative estimate."
The decision to go public about the CDMA delay follows a comment from Verizon Wireless that it would not have phones running the operating system this year. Because Microsoft has delayed the CDMA version, that means Windows Phone 7 also won't be running on Sprint this year, leaving AT&T and T-Mobile as the major potential U.S. launch partners. AT&T has talked about its plans to be part of the Windows Phone 7 launch. Sullivan declined to say if T-Mobile would have devices at launch.
Microsoft made other trade-offs in the feature set for the initial release of Windows Phone 7, opting not to include copy and paste capabilities.
"It's exactly the same decision dynamic," Sullivan said. "Look, we could do more things, or we could do fewer things really, really well. We chose intentionally to do fewer things really, really well."
Sullivan acknowledged that Microsoft will have to move fast in adding some of the missing pieces if it hopes to compete against the iPhone and Google's Android-based devices.
"We absolutely have to build that quality first and then we have to quickly achieve reach and scale," he said.
The CDMA issue is just one of several Windows Phone 7 stories swirling today. Microsoft began the day by talking about several new apps that are nearly ready for the phone, including programs like Twitter and Netflix. Also, Engadget has a video (embedded below) of what appears to be HTC's version of Sense for Windows Phone 7.
Microsoft is slated to tout Windows Phone 7 at an October 11 "open house" event in New York, though devices won't immediately be available and will instead trickle out as various hardware makers and carriers are ready to start selling them. Microsoft wrapped up development work on the operating system at the beginning of the month.