No Verizon or Sprint for Windows Phone 7 launch -- what was Microsoft thinking?

Microsoft needs the Windows Phone 7 launch to make a big splash if it's to make any headway against Android and the iPhone. So the news that Windows Phone 7 won't be available to Verizon or Sprint subscribers until sometime during the first half of 2011 bodes badly for Microsoft. At this rate, it will never catch up.

Microsoft senior product manager Greg Sullivan told CNet that Windows Phone 7 won't be available for CDMA networks until some time in the first half of 2011. Between the launch and then, it will only work on GSM networks.

That means no Verizon, and no Sprint. Why won't it launch on CDMA networks? Sullivan told CNet:

"We had to make some trade-offs. Even Microsoft doesn't have unlimited resources. We had to prioritize doing fewer things really, really well."

Microsoft would have done well to make running on all phone networks its highest priority. Eliminating a vast swath of your potential customers at a time when your competition is surging and your market share is dropping is not exactly what they teach you in Business 101.

Making matters worse is that AT&T has such a poor reputation when it comes to coverage. In addition, Windows Phone 7 will be going head to head against the iPhone on AT&T. Plenty of people sign up with AT&T for one reason alone --- they want the iPhone. Don't expect many people to give up their iPhones for Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft doesn't have many chances left to catch up with Android phones and the iPhone. This holiday season could be a make-or-break time for Windows Phone 7 --- and Microsoft ignoring a massive number of potential customers isn't going to help.

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