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Microsoft puts final touches on Windows Phone 7, sends it to OEMs


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Microsoft has announced that Windows Phone 7 has hit the release to manufacturing milestone. The OS has been finalized and has been sent off to Microsoft's partners around the world, who in turn will put it on their hardware and networks in time for this holiday season. All that's left before release is manufacturer additions and testing. Prepare yourself for a Windows Phone 7 launch event; devices will hit Europe in October and the US in November.

"Windows Phone 7 is the most thoroughly tested mobile platform Microsoft has ever released," Microsoft wrote in a blog post. "We had nearly ten thousand devices running automated tests daily, over a half million hours of active self-hosting use, over three and a half million hours of stress test passes, and eight and a half million hours of fully automated test passes. We’ve had thousands of independent software vendors and early adopters testing our software and giving us great feedback. We are ready."

Since the release of the Technical Preview, Microsoft has fixed bugs, fine-tuned performance, polished the interface, and added features. (Side note: prototype phones will not be getting an upgrade to the RTM build.) Redmond is being secretive about the new features, only disclosing a couple related to Facebook. Users will be able to filter Facebook friends to only those already in the phone's contact list, as well as "like" Facebook posts and write messages on Facebook walls directly from the People Hub. Microsoft also added a more visible search option to the contact list after it found that testers were not aware they could search their contacts by using the phone's physical search button.

There is still one more milestone to reach on the developer side of things: the final SDK is slated for release on September 16. In early October, the Marketplace will start accepting application submissions. This will include applications from the hardware companies and network operators; their software has to go through the Marketplace validation process just like applications will.

This doesn't leave much time for Microsoft to accept apps and populate the online store for the early adopters. Still, with the final RTM code now available, the company should be able to refocus on its partners and third-party developers over the next few weeks.

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