Microsoft reached a significant milestone today with Windows Phone 7 by releasing it to manufacturing (RTM). The milestone marks the completion of Microsoft’s programming changes to what will be the version of Windows Phone 7 that is provided to handset manufacturers. The handset manufacturers now need to finalize their portions of Windows Phone 7 so that they can begin to start manufacturing devices to ship and get into stores by the holiday shopping season.
Developers and journalists have had a technical preview of Windows Phone 7 for several weeks, which was several releases before today’s RTM version. For a bit more about what is in store with Windows Phone 7, read Ina Fried’s article in which she highlights some things she discovered after using it for a longer period of time. One example is how you place the cursor (something that I find very frustrating to do in iOS) by tapping and holding in the general area where you want the cursor, and then dragging it to the specific location.
What remains now to be seen is when exactly phones running Windows Phone 7 will be available for people to buy. Ever since the launch announcement Microsoft has been promising that they will be available by the holiday shopping season, which I take to mean between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We don’t know the specific dates nor do we know what carriers will have the phones, though it is almost certain AT&T will be among the first, if not the first. While Microsoft’s work is done, there are still plenty of problems that could pop up to prevent devices being available for Christmas, so I am sure folks in Redmond will remain nervous until devices make into consumer’s hands.