Microsoft’s mobile operating system – Windows or curtains: The software giant is desperate to make a splash in the smart-phone business

At a company meeting last year, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s pugnacious boss, spied an employee taking a photo on an Apple iPhone. He promptly grabbed the offending device and pretended to stamp on it. Microsoft would love to crush competitors in the smart-phone market, but it has repeatedly failed to come up with compelling offerings of its own. Now the software firm is gearing up for another assault on a business that is crucial to its future.On October 11th Microsoft is due to unveil phones from manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung that incorporate its new operating system, Windows Phone 7 (WP7). An accompanying media blitz will seek to position it as an attractive alternative to Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Symbian, which powers many Nokia phones. The stakes are high for Microsoft and for Mr Ballmer, whose stewardship of the firm is the subject of intense debate. Microsoft’s share price has fallen by almost 20% since the beginning of this year, while the S&P 500 stockmarket index has risen by 4%.To read this report in The Economist in full, see:

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