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Attendees of Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference aren't the only people who will get a free Windows Phone 7 -- the Redmond, Wash. company has announced that all of its 89,000 employees will, too.
A Windows Phone 7 executive told Network World that while not all employees currently use a Windows-based phone, everyone was elated about the news that they would receive one. What isn't known is whether Microsoft will also be picking up the tab for the employees' monthly voice and data plans.
The news of the company's largesse was first leaked over the summer in an internal memo from Microsoft VP Andy Lees that said that the company would make its new phone available to every employee as it is launched in each worldwide market. Microsoft isn't the first company to give out free phones; tech blog Gizmodo reported that Apple and Google have both done something similar with their respective phones, the iPhone and the Nexus One.
Last month, a few hundred Microsoft employees held a mock funeral for the iPhone on the Redmond campus, Reuters reported.
The launch of Windows Phone 7 in the U.S. is still about a week away. Some analysts have said the device is Microsoft's last opportunity to compete against Apple and Google's smartphones after losing the strong market share it held. The company stopped working on its Kin device, geared at a young, social networking-focused audience, over the summer after Verizon slashed the prices of its two Kin models. Smartphone manufacturers including HTC and Samsung are debuting Windows 7 phones in time for the holidays. But there is some sentiment that the Windows Phone 7 OS is not significantly better than any other smartphone platform.
Despite its unsteady market share in browsers, slates, and phones, Microsoft earlier this week announced it has sold more than 240 million Windows 7 licenses since the OS was launched one year ago.
On Thursday, chief executive Steve Ballmer told attendees at Microsoft's developers conference that there is still plenty of time for devices running Windows Phone 7 to grab market share.