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Originally published October 29, 2012 at 7:53 PM | Page modified October 30, 2012 at 10:30 AM

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Microsoft executive aims to put Windows Phone in more hands

Terry Myerson, corporate vice president for Windows Phone, explains why he’s confident the new phone will be a hit.

Seattle Times technology reporter

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SAN FRANCISCO — After leading the engineering team that developed earlier versions of the Windows Phone platform, Terry Myerson was named to head the entire phone division a year ago.

As corporate vice president for Windows Phone, the Microsoft veteran is now responsible for development, marketing and other business functions of the platform.

He sat down for an interview Monday with The Seattle Times at the company’s launch event.

Q: Analysts say the key thing Microsoft needs to do with Windows Phone 8 is to emphasize not just how it’s different but also how it’s better. How is it better than the latest top-of-the-line Android phones and iPhone?

A: It really gets back to the three things we talked about in the event: Windows Phone really does bring you closer to the people and interests in your life.

It works best with your Windows devices and your Xbox — much better than other devices on the market.

And there’s killer hardware now — beautiful, thin elegant devices with amazing cameras and amazing sound.

Q: How do you measure success for Windows Phone? Is it by market share? Reviews? How will we know when the Windows Phone platform has arrived?

A: We know when people use Windows Phone, they love Windows Phone. Our goal is to get out there, tell our story and get Windows Phones into more hands and grow our user base.

Q: You once sent out a memo that noted that Windows Phones were among the best reviewed on Amazon.com but were not the best-sellers, saying: “We have an awareness problem.”

It seems that awareness problem hasn’t been solved yet. How do you plan to raise awareness for Windows Phone 8?

A: It all starts with the product and having this product that genuinely brings people closer to the people in their lives and the interests in their lives. Having killer hardware. Having Windows 8 out there with the same user experience and real scenarios where Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 work well together.

These things all come together now. You put all that together with us out there telling our story directly to consumers. I believe now is a time when people will learn about Windows Phone as a great option for them — as the best option for them.

Q: When will the Windows Phone commercials start?

A: We’ll run ads when there are products available on the shelves. In November, we’ll have products on the shelves in the Seattle area and the Microsoft stores and [carrier] stores.

Q: What about Sprint [which alone among the largest carriers doesn’t have a Windows Phone 8 device in its lineup]?

A: I expect we’ll be working with Sprint very soon. But nothing to announce today.

Q: Is Microsoft coordinating an overall promotional push among carrier and manufacturing partners?

A: With Windows Phone 8, we’re going to be telling our story directly to consumers: Trying to build the Windows Phone brand, help them understand what’s unique and special about Windows Phone 8, help them understand how their phone can be such a personal device that brings them closer and how amazing an experience it can be when a phone works really well with your PC.

We’re going to be out telling that story, with our OEM [original equipment manufacturer] and mobile operator partners. One thing very different this time round is us out there leading in the telling of that story.

Q: What’s the budget for such an effort?

A: I don’t’ think we have anything to say on that.

Q: In 2008, when you came to head the Windows Phone engineering team after Microsoft had decided to completely scrap its Windows Mobile platform in favor of Windows Phone, you said catching up to iOS and Android would take about five years. We’re closing on five years now. How would you assess the progress so far?

A: Building a great, differentiated product does take time. Had we chosen to copy other products on the market, we perhaps would’ve done it sooner. But we knew there was a better way. ... We took the time to build this amazing product.

Q: Microsoft has said it’s all in on the cloud. What role does Windows Phone play in moving people to the cloud?

A: I’m not sure what it means to move someone to the cloud. But the idea that my content would roam both from my devices and to my devices and be stored safely and securely in case I lose my device — — it’s just great peace of mind and a great convenience.

Q: Microsoft has generated a huge amount of buzz with Surface, its first branded computing device. Will Microsoft be building its own Windows Phones?

A: We’re a big believer in our hardware partners and we’re working with them right now in launching Windows Phone 8.

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or jtu@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @janettu.

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