Windows Phone 7 gets Kinect linkup

steve_ballmer_mobile_world.gi.top.jpg By David Goldman, staff writer


BARCELONA, Spain (CNNMoney) -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer channeled Apple's Steve Jobs at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, when the software giant revealed a jaw-dropping "one more thing" at the tail end of an otherwise yawn-inducing Windows Phone 7 presentation.

After a quick intro from Ballmer, Windows Phone 7 head Joe Belfiore unveiled a series of upcoming updates to Windows Phone 7 that included multitasking, SkyDrive (cloud storage) support, and the ability to integrate third-party music players. Of course, Microsoft's (MSFT, Fortune 500) much bigger smartphone rivals, Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) iPhone and Google's (GOOG, Fortune 500) Android phones, already have those features.

But then, Belfiore announced that he had "one more thing" to show the audience, stealing a line that Jobs famously employs when he wants to wow his audience with surprising new technology.

That "one more thing" was the ability to use a Windows Phone 7 device with Microsoft's controllerless Xbox 360 Kinect gaming system. The planned integration will turn mobile phones into quasi-controllers for the gaming system.

The example Microsoft used was very cool to watch: If one user is playing virtual dodgeball and another player whips out a Windows Phone 7 device, the phone can recognize the Kinect and let the owner start lobbing balls using the phone. The phone user can see the player and the virtual game on the phone's screen using augmented reality, and more players can join in as well.

Belfiore didn't say when that interoperability would be available, but he said it's "real code," not just a hypothetical demonstration.

Microsoft said all of Windows Phone 7's new features will be available in 2011, but the company did not give a more specific timeframe.

Launching Kinect support for Windows Phone 7 may seem a bit odd, but Kinect is Microsoft's most exciting consumer product right now. The company sold 8 million devices during the holiday season, besting everyone's expectations.

By contrast, Windows Phone 7 has had a slow takeoff. Microsoft has shipped 2 million Windows Phone 7 units since the system launched in November. But Microsoft scored a major coup last week when Nokia -- the world's bestselling phone maker -- announced plans to drop its own software efforts and make Windows Phone 7 its primary platform.

Also during Monday's presentation, Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer 9 will soon be available on Windows Phone 7 devices. That will allow for the same graphics hardware acceleration that's available on the beta version of IE9 for PCs, leading to faster graphics and the ability to stream HD video and still have enough memory to perform other tasks.

That demo and others, however, were all virtual. The wireless Internet powering MWC 2011 was extremely overloaded during the presentation, preventing Microsoft from demoing many of the features it was attempting to show off.

The irony of a major wireless confab lacking Wi-Fi wasn't lost on attendees, who still managed to eke out enough connectivity to fill Twitter with gripes about the problem.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,265.99 109.14 0.64%
Nasdaq 4,593.43 31.24 0.68%
S&P 500 2,011.36 9.79 0.49%
Treasuries 2.63 0.03 1.12%
Data as of 6:41pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.04 0.27 1.61%
Yahoo! Inc 42.08 -0.50 -1.19%
Apple Inc 101.79 0.21 0.21%
Microsoft Corp 46.68 0.16 0.34%
General Electric Co 26.21 0.16 0.61%
Data as of 4:04pm ET

Sections

Alibaba officially secured its place in history as the largest U.S.-listed IPO of all time. The company will be worth $168 billion. More

The Federal Reserve is probably not going to raise interest rates until the summer of 2015 at the earliest. More

Immigrant entrepreneurs leverage connections abroad to boost international exports -- and non-immigrants could stand to learn from their tactics. More

A 10,000 square-foot home doesn't take care of itself, and many of the uber wealthy families who own them don't want to tend to them either. So they hire people like Bryan Peele. Here are journal entries from a day in his life. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.