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In what will certainly be looked at as a blow for Microsoft, the company revealed today that its upcoming Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system won’t support CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint until the first half of 2011, CNET reports.

So if you want to snag a Windows Phone 7 device this year in the US, you’ll have to opt for AT&T or T-Mobile’s GSM (a competing cellular standard) networks. Microsoft prioritized development of the OS for GSM networks because the technology is used more widely worldwide — particularly in Europe. The decision to delay CDMA support was apparently made earlier this year, but Microsoft chose not to reveal the news until now — most likely as a response to Verizon’s announcement today that it won’t offer Windows Phone 7 devices until 2011.

Regarding the delay, Microsoft senior product manager Greg Sullivan told CNET: “Look, we could do more things, or we could do fewer things really, really well. We chose intentionally to do fewer things really, really well.” Microsoft previously used similar reasoning for Windows Phone 7’s lack of copy and paste capabilities at launch.

AT&T claimed in July that it would be Microsoft’s “premiere” launch partner for Windows Phone 7. Sullivan wouldn’t confirm to CNet if T-Mobile would also have devices at the platform’s launch.

I’m of two minds about the news: It’s certainly better for Microsoft to hold off on releasing an operating system if it’s not ready — particularly since the specter of Window Vista is still fresh in many users’ minds. At the same time, Microsoft should have had plenty of time to prepare Windows Phone 7 for CDMA networks. Such a delay — albeit a partial one — seems inexcusable for a company that desperately needs to prove its competence in the mobile marketplace.

The news is also interesting considering Microsoft launched its woefully misguided Kin phones on Verizon. Sullivan issued a statement to press regarding the potential link between the Kin failure and Windows Phone 7’s CDMA delay, saying simply that “Verizon continues to be a key Windows Phone partner going forward.”

Microsoft is expected to announce Windows Phone 7’s official launch date, along with other news, at an open house event in New York on October 11.

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