BARCELONA -- Microsoft today announced two new Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1, which will be upgraded to the cross-platform Windows 10 later in the year.
The company gave news media at Mobile World Congress a brief glimpse of how Windows 10 apps, such as an Excel spreadsheet, maps and Outlook email, look on a smartphone display. Windows 10 is currently in a publicly available preview version and will be ready for official release later in 2015.
The new phones are the Lumia 640, with a 5-in. display, and the Lumia 640 XL with a 5.7-in. screen. The larger device ships in March and the smaller one in April, and both AT&T and T-Mobile will offer them. Pricing was estimated at about $178 for the Lumia 640 on LTE and about $245 for the Lumia 640 XL on LTE, but pricing will vary by market and operator, Microsoft said.
Microsoft also announced a Bluetooth-capable keyboard that can be folded in half to fit in a pocket or purse. It is larger than the Lumia 640 XL when folded in half. Further specs and pricing weren't immediately available.
Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia under Microsoft, described the new Lumia devices as further manifestation of Microsoft's commitment for Windows 10 apps and services that work across phones, tablets, laptops and desktops and even across major operating systems.
On-stage demonstrations showed how an Excel spreadsheet will look on the Lumia 640 XL, allowing on-display touches to re-size cells of data. In one demonstration, a Surface Pro 3 tablet was used to search for a map of downtown Barcelona, then the same map was sized on a smartphone. In another demo, a Barcelona restaurant dinner reservation reminder for 8 p.m. was set on a Surface tablet using voice commands with the Cortana digital assistant, then the reservation was shown immediately on the smartphone. The spoken command for 8 p.m. was misunderstood by Cortana as 6 p.m., explained as a fault of a live demo in a crowded and loud exhibition hall.
"Developers can build universal experiences and deliver them across different types of Windows devices," Elop said. "It is our hope that our cross-platform initiatives will deliver not only across our platforms, but those of others." Elop said there are now 2.8 million developers and others registered as Windows insiders to work on Windows 10 apps and services.
AT&T will be a partner working on a mobile Office suite platform, he said. The new high-end Lumia smartphones will ship with Windows 10 later in 2015, he added.
Microsoft's next Build conference for developers will be held April 29.
Elop allowed that while Windows 10 in preview still "has a few rough edges," it is "important to share features and for you to share your feedback with us. There's a lot to love for Windows on phones."
Bob O'Donnell, analyst and founder of Technalysis Research, said in an interview that working with various Office applications solely on a Lumia smartphone might not become commonplace for many workers, especially when they are composing or editing a detailed Excel spreadsheet. However, a larger phablet-sized smartphone, like the Lumia 640 XL, could help make it "theoretically" possible.
"The ideal setup for a worker is to have a phablet along with a tablet like a Surface," O'Donnell said, noting that he carries both the iPhone 6 Plus, with a 5.5-in. display, and a Surface Pro 3, which keeps him productive on the road.
Ironically, O'Donnell said that Windows 8 in its various versions for phone and desktop has worked well on smartphones, and not as well on desktops. "In Windows 10, they are fixing the PC part, and there aren't as many changes needed for the phone," he said.
The biggest value for Microsoft will be if workers, in large numbers, are willing to run Office 365 on the Mac and other platforms, O'Donnell said. Few people buy different sizes of devices that run on a common OS, which makes Microsoft's intention to provide apps for various operating systems more powerful. "Even many Apple supporters don't have all-Apple devices," he noted.
The Lumia 640 measures 5.5 x 2.8 x 0.35 inches and weighs 5.11 ounces. It has an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 0.9 megapixel front camera. The 2500 mAh battery supports up to 26 hours of talk time.
Both phones will have a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor running at 1.2 GHz and will have 1 GB of memory.
The larger Lumia 640 XL measures 6.2 x 3.1 x 0.35 inches and weighs 6 ounces. It has a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5 -megapixel front The battery in the Lumia 640 XL is larger, at 3,000 mAh.
Both phones will come with a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal for the Lumia device, as well as for one PC or Mac and one tablet, plus 1 TB of OneDrive storage and 60 free minutes per month of Skype worldwide calling.
Both will be available in single-SIM and dual-SIM LTE and dual SIM 3G variations.