The first Windows Phone 7 devices won't hit the market until the holidays. But in various conference rooms here on this Thursday in late May, it's already crunch time.
Microsoft has only a few weeks to get a near-final version of its code ready so various wireless carriers can start the months of testing required before they'll start selling a new device.
In Studio F, one of three newer buildings that house Microsoft's vast phone effort, the team working on the phone operating system itself is having its daily meeting to assess the software in terms of bugs and performance goals. Microsoft developers call these gatherings the "shiproom," because in days gone by it was in those conference rooms that Microsoft would declare a product to be good enough to release to manufacturing, or ship.
In an equally nondescript conference room in Studio H across the street, a second shiproom meeting brings together people working on companion Web services, such as location and the application marketplace, that are part of the Windows Phone 7 release. In a third room, back in Studio F, another engineering group from Microsoft was meeting with counterparts from chipmaker Qualcomm to discuss the microprocessing guts of their new phone.
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