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Summary:

Microsoft plans to deliver three chassis designs for Windows Phone 7, which is due out late this year. But it’s the first chassis — which will support big-screen, touch-only devices — that will be key as a new wave of connected devices come to market.

Microsoft is getting a lot of attention over its decision to streamline the OS and deliver only three main chassis designs with its upcoming Windows Phone 7. But if the company is to regain relevance with the Apples and Googles of the mobile world, it’s the first chassis design that will be key.

As Mary Jo Foley first reported this morning, the first Windows Phone 7 chassis is designed for manufacturers building big-screen, touch-only devices, while the second will support gadgets with sliding QWERTY keyboards in addition to touchscreens. While the third chassis isn’t specified, it’s expected to be targeted at traditional, candy bar-style handsets.

The strategy allows Microsoft to all but guarantee a consistent user experience and performance across devices, as Kevin noted over at jkOnTheRun. Chassis No. 1 will be used on the first smartphones to run Windows Phone 7 when the devices come to market before this year’s holiday season. And the first chassis will also be crucial if Microsoft is to expand beyond modern handsets to leverage the wave of tablets that will come to market over the next several months.

That’s a strategy Apple is pursuing with its iPad, which runs the iPhone OS. It also is Google’s plan for Android, which is so versatile that Om envisions the Androidification of everything. Microsoft already has vast experience in the PC and laptop world, of course, so bridging the gap between phones and other connected devices shouldn’t be all that difficult. If it can truly produce a world-class mobile OS — and if it can attract developers to the platform — it will suddenly find itself competing with the most influential players in the space. Which seemed unimaginable just a few weeks ago.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Image courtesy Microsoft.

  1. A lot of “ifs” in dis here post. – Good luck Microsoft.

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  2. [...] Why the First WinPhone Chassis Design Is Key for Microsoft [...]

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  3. I think WP7 will eat into Android’s market first, because most of Android’s users are kind of dislike Apple or so called “Apple Haters”. Otherwise they would buy an iPhone already.

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  4. Couldn’t agree less… Android launched with the monstrosity that was the G1 and is doing fine now. The first chassis design wont matter one bit, but the initial software experience and how quickly Microsoft can react to feedback and implement/deploy changes will. If the software becomes popular, there will be device manufacturers lining up to build swish looking phones.

    Oh and “Microsoft already has vast experience in the PC and laptop world, of course, so bridging the gap between phones and other connected devices shouldn’t be all that difficult.” – for anyone who has ever used a Windows Mobile device up until now, comic genius :)

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    1. You’re right that WinPhone’s ability to quickly evolve will be key, George. More importantly, thanks for the laugh!

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  5. See Palm Pre and Pixi. They are ugly. I don’t know anyone even talking about them.

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  6. [...] of borrowing from the boring, old Windows Mobile platform. Next was the Apple-like control around standard hardware, a centralized app store, and a framework for items like multitasking and notifications. Smartly [...]

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