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Motorola is to launch its first Windows based mobile phone.

The clamshell format MPx200, which is set to debut on Orange's European networks next month, builds on lessons learned by Orange and Microsoft with the SPV range of phones built by Taiwan's High Tech Computer Corp. However, there are some notable omissions, which are down to the short lead time in bringing the device to market.

The MPx200 could herald a major product drive by Motorola around Microsoft's handset software, now that the company is set to divest its interests in UK-based mobile operating system vendor Symbian.

The launch of the MPx200 lays to rest rumors that Motorola has been developing a smart phone around Microsoft's handset software. Consistent with speculation, the MPx200 follows closely the "Beethoven" handset design from Taiwanese original design manufacturer Chi Mei Communication Systems.

Apart from the obvious difference in form factor between the MPx200 and the SPV, the device evolves the Windows Smartphone slightly. Among the most conspicuous changes, the handset uses a mildly tweaked version of the current Windows Mobile 2002 software for Smartphones (formerly Windows Powered Smartphone 2002).

This adds new features such as bulk deleting of messages, a new MMS picture messaging client and a number of other new applications. These include a SIM-card manager, a task manager, a space maker for freeing up memory, an app for monitoring system information and several games.

Motorola has also raised the performance benchmark over the SPV by employing a 200MHz Texas Instruments OMAP chip in place of the SPV's 132MHz version. Initial impressions with a pre-production sample of the MPx200 suggest that the chip upgrade has significantly improved both device and application boot time compared with the poor performance experienced with the SPV.

Talk and standby times of five hours and five days respectively also appear reasonable for the smart phone category. The device, which offers tri-band GSM/GPRS connectivity, will also ship with a 32MB SD memory card.

However, there are some notable omissions in the device's specification. Most obviously, the device lacks Bluetooth, mobile Java (J2ME) and the now almost de rigeur integrated digital camera. The lack of these features reflects the short lead time to bring the device to market as well as consumer feedback for what is seen as a "professional consumer" device.

Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor

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