Fresh off the heals of my own speculation that Windows 7 would find it difficult to find a developer base, Microsoft seems to be pulling out all the stops in effort to get Windows Phone 7 jump started. Every Microsoft employee (which according to Wikipedia is 93,000 across 100 countries) will be getting a Windows Phone 7 for free. How's that for a starting consumer base? Here's some background.
Tip of the hat to Gizmodo, who was apparently tipped off with a leaked internal memo about the announcement...
With all the buzz, a lot of you are asking how you can get your hands on a phone and get more involved. So, I am thrilled to announce that a new Windows Phone 7 will be made available to every Microsoft employee as we launch in each market around the world. The process will vary based on your market, your carrier, and your launch date so stay tuned for more information closer to launch.It's actually brilliant. With 93,000 employees, Microsoft can turn each of them into mini-evangelists for the platform, and what's more -- if they're using that phone every day, they'll be (at least, we think they'll be) motivated to make it robust and better fit their lifestyle. Good user feedback that's literally inside the ear of Microsoft.
It'll probably be a drop in the bucket for Microsoft to hand out all the free phones, and in the long run, has a very good potential to pay off for them. Still, this blogger has a sneaking suspicion that Microsoft is feeling a little desperate, or at the very least, understands they're very much the underdog in the mobile phone market.
Of course, there are some ongoing challenges: Will Microsoft employees drop their current carriers and long-term cellular plans to switch over to Windows Phone 7 and potentially new carriers? And how many Microsoft employees will actually let go of their iPhones -- which are known to be widely used within Microsoft?
We'll be watching.