As Microsoft has leaked out details of its upcoming Windows
Phone 7 series, it has been pretty obviouthat the company planned to borrow heavily
from its successful Xbox Live formula. Now it’s sharing more details – and it’s looking a lot more like a semi-complete integration of the service,
rather than just a few elements.
The new phones will launch with Xbox Live integration,
letting owners stay connected with their gaming friends when they’re away from
their consoles. They’ll also be able to access leaderboards, turn-based
multiplayer games, Achievements and more.
Microsoft is also putting some of its game catalog
heavy-hitters front and center with the phone’s OS, announcing plans to bring its Halo: Waypoint hub (which
provides users with videos, gameplay strategies and tutorials for
the popular franchise) and a mobile version of “Crackdown 2” to Windows Phone 7.
“Windows Phone 7 is the launch of a major gaming platform
for Microsoft,” said Matt Booty, general manager of mobile gaming for Microsoft
Game Studios. “Just like we’ve done with Xbox 360, our charter is to push the
envelope and deliver definitive games that maximize the platform.”
The company has lined up a number of game publishers as
partners, including GameLoft, Konami, THQ and PopCap. All totaled there
are over 60 games in the launch portfolio – with others coming this holiday
season. Microsoft says new Xbox Live titles will be added weekly.
The phones will launch later this year
Microsoft, obviously, isn’t going to overthrow the iPhone or
Android phones with Windows Phone 7, but it is the best effort by the company
in the mobile space in a long time – and could be the only hope of keeping the
company relevant in the category.