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AT&T on Board with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7

AT&T must be some sort of glutton for punishment. The exclusive provider of iPhone service is now going to be the "premier" provider of service for the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 platform...whatever that means.

Both Apple and AT&T get loads of flack from bloggers and the trade press about the iPhone and Windows Phone 7. Given the recent epic failure of Microsoft's Kin,  Microsoft doesn't exactly have the best image at the moment, either. So, why would AT&T want to get mixed up in another mobile mess?

Well, probably because the iPhone has brought AT&T a whole mess of profits. In fact, the phone itself might actually have improved AT&T's reputation as a carrier, which is apparently pretty good among customers.

Will Windows Phone 7 have the same effect, either on profits or on credibility? Not likely. But it couldn't hurt to jump in on the ground floor or a Microsoft mobile project...right? What's that, Verizon? Surely Windows Phone 7 will fare better than the Kin, which was kind of a dumb idea to begin with. (A social-networking phone? Really? Because other similarly priced phones didn't do that already? Not Redmond's finest hour.)

But how will Microsoft fare with AT&T? Granted, "premier" provider does not mean "exclusive" by any means, but clearly AT&T wants to play a big role in the launch of Windows Phone 7. Can its network, already stretched, handle the traffic? Will users be so happy with their Widows Phone 7 devices that their good vibes will spill over onto AT&T, as has apparently happened with the iPhone? And does Microsoft risk alienating other providers with this "premier" business?

Our speculative answers to those last three questions are, in order: probably not, probably not and probably. It's time for an editorial rant here: Your editor is a smartphone owner and an AT&T subscriber (although not an iPhone user), and he can say with some confidence that AT&T's service has been consistently awful. As soon as the contract expires, it's back to T-Mobile or over to Verizon without hesitation. Remember, that's just your editor's take on things.

Nevertheless, it's worth watching how closely Microsoft and AT&T end up partnering on Windows Phone 7. Microsoft put all its eggs in one basket with Verizon on Kin, and the eggs broke. Windows Phone 7 should be a better platform than Kin was, but carriers matter...a lot. As do hardware partners -- but that's another post for another time.

How satisfied are you with your phone service? Which carrier would you like to see Microsoft work with for Windows Phone 7? Send your thoughts to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on July 29, 2010