Microsoft's Peabody smart phone nearing completion

Microsoft's Peabody smart phone is nearing completion and will run Windows Mobile 5.0, an executive said.

A low-cost smart phone from Microsoft code-named Peabody is nearing completion and will run on the recently released Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, an executive from the software giant said Tuesday.

When the phone platform was first discussed in February, Microsoft planned to aim it at emerging markets such as India and China. But the company has since decided to offer it in all parts of the world, since "everyone is interested in low costs," said Ya-Qin Zhang, corporate vice president at Microsoft's mobile and embedded devices division, during an interview in Taipei.

The software for the mobile phone, which includes some computing functions similar to those found in a personal digital assistant, has been completed, and Microsoft is working with contract manufacturer Flextronics International to design the hardware, with an eye to keeping the price as low as possible, Zhang said.

"We're going to make this available to our OEM (original equipment manufacturing) partners. I don't have a detailed time frame, but the work is coming along pretty well," he said. The planning and development are already done and only the hardware integration remains, he said.

Once finished, the smart phone's specifications will be offered to contract manufacturers globally as a way for them to quickly enter the smart phone business.

The handset will run on a full version of Windows Mobile 5.0, not a stripped down version, Zhang said. It will work on both GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks.

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Dan Nystedt

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