Playing catch-up to rivals such as Apple and Google, Microsoft on Monday beefed up its push into mobile business, touting new services and winning fresh support from handset makers.
In several press releases, the software giant announced that at the Mobile World Congress being held in Barcelona, Spain, the company and its key mobile partners are unveiling new smartphones with upgraded Microsoft software.
The next generation of phones will be based on Windows Mobile 6.5, Microsoft's new version of operating system for handsets, which is expected to be available in the later half this year.
The new mobile operating system will feature a new user interface, providing a dashboard-like experience to items such as new e-mails, texts, missed calls and calendar appointments.
It will include an improved touch-screen interface, making it easy to take action with a finger, Microsoft said.
Another key feature is the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, an online service that allows users to search and download software applications to their handsets. The service is similar to Apple's popular App Store for iPhone users.
Microsoft also announced that South Korea's LG Electronics, world's third-largest mobile handset maker, has agreed to make Windows the primary operating system for its smartphones and will tenfold increase the number of its products using the Windows system from 2008 to 2009.
The agreement may result in more than 50 new LG phones running Windows system in the coming years, Microsoft said.
According to the company, mobile operator Orange and handset maker HTC also make further commitments to use Microsoft's latest Mobile operating system in their new products.
Touch Diamond 2 and Touch Pro 2, the two new phones launched by HTC, will be upgradeable to Windows Mobile 6.5, Microsoft said.
In a separate announcement on Monday, Hewlett-Packard (HP), the world's largest personal computer maker, also threw its support for Microsoft's new mobile operating system.
HP plans to offer smartphones using Windows Mobile 6.5, it said in a statement.
However, as the new operating system won't be available for consumers until the end of 2009, it may just be too late for Microsoft to gain stronghold on the market, some analysts said.