The official launch date of Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 is coming October 11th, with a big bash planned in New York City. But some skeptics openly wonder: Is Windows Phone 7 a case of too little too late? Read on for the speculation...

The tip of the hat goes to the Wall Street Journal for getting some of the more mundane details down pat. October 11th will mark a joint launch party with both Microsoft and AT&T for the new devices. Samsung, HTC and LG will all be offering Windows Mobile phones running Windows Phone 7. AT&T will be selling the phones roughly a month later, come November 8th.

The WSJ cites a Gartner report that puts Microsoft's smartphone market share at a scant 5%, down by nearly half since 2009. That's devastating, especially for a company whose biggest smartphone competitor was once RIM's BlackBerry.

Microsoft truly is the smartphone underdog at this point, especially since the ill-fated KIN phones lived for only two months on Verizon's network.

Key Challenges

So Microsoft has some obstacles to cover with the launch: development, adoption and usability. Initial whispers around the Internet, and podcasts -- like This Week In Tech (TWiT) -- suggest Microsoft got the usability down pat. Wall Street Journal Columnist Kara Swisher divulged some interesting details on her guest appearance on TWiT, noting that it felt somewhere between an iPhone and an Android Phone, calling it "the Bing of phones." Most of the other panelists agreed, it was a pleasant experience.

Speed Dialing the ISVs

But then comes the development and adoption.

Microsoft has been campaigning for people to develop for the phone, and the WSJ reports that they've tried to "entice" devs, but don't detail how. Microsoft does plan on having a 'closed' system like Apple, though, with all purchases made through the Windows Marketplace. It'll be interesting to see how that will effect adoption.

People won't adopt a phone just because it's pretty; it needs to do something useful other than be a phone. And that's where apps come in. Generally speaking, the size of the app store isn't necessary the sign of poor quality apps or unenthusiastic ecosystem, but there needs to be some good ones in there to make it compelling. It'll be interesting to see what the star apps are when the phone takes off.

How many of you out there are planning on buying a Windows 7 phone? Let me know know, and let me know why. And more importantly -- why does Microsoft feel the need to put itself into the mobile phone market so late in the game?

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