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 17,921.64 116.84 0.66%
Nasdaq 4,776.52 11.14 0.23%
S&P 500 2,074.10 3.45 0.17%
Treasuries 2.18 0.00 0.09%
Data as of 1:12pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Gilead Sciences Inc 95.43 -13.02 -12.01%
Bank of America Corp... 17.68 0.06 0.37%
Facebook Inc 81.78 1.90 2.37%
Apple Inc 112.66 0.88 0.79%
General Electric Co 25.60 -0.03 -0.10%
Data as of 12:57pm ET

Sections

Private equity titan CEO David Rubenstein drops some rhymes in a holiday message to investors. More

UPS and FedEx employ teams of meteorologists whose nightmare is a "big snow or ice storm at one of our hubs" during the peak holiday shipping season. More

Uber wants patent protection for the way it charges more at periods of peak demand. More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

Retired union workers could see their pensions cut under a controversial new law, but many say they're not sure how they'll make ends meet if big cuts go through. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices 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.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.