Microsoft to unveil new phone software

Microsoft is expected to unveil a major revamp of its phone software next week.

Chief executive Steve Ballmer will be at the world’s largest mobile phone trade show on Monday, in Barcelona, Spain, and he is tipped to reveal Windows Mobile 7. The software could be in phones by late this year.

Analysts see the launch as the last chance for the electronics giant to regain its momentum in a market where it has been overshadowed by Google, Apple and others.

The launch comes as Microsoft products have lagged behind Research in Motion’s BlackBerry among corporate users, and Apple’s iPhone for private consumers.

The new software is expected to be more consumer-focused than previous versions, with a simplified user interface, which could be borrowed in part from Microsoft’s well-reviewed – but low-selling – Zune HD media player.

Mr Ballmer was in Barcelona last year to show off the previous software update, Windows Mobile 6.5. The first phones landed in October, but reaction was disappointing.

Meanwhile, Google says it has responded to privacy concerns over its new social media venture Buzz, which was added to its email service this week.

Users complained that Buzz made their frequent email contacts visible to others by automatically making these contacts their followers and followees, and making these lists public.

Customers said this would mean some regular correspondents like a boss or ex-partner would become a user’s “friends”, some of whom they would not necessarily want to share everything with.

Google has made it easier to hide the lists of followers and followees. It also made it easier to block specific people from following Buzz updates.

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