Microsoft prep phones for Xbox experience

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The Independent Tech

Microsoft are to launch more and more games for mobile phones running their Windows Phone 7 operating system as the year goes on, unveiling seventy-three launch titles that integrate with the existing console service in one way or another.

Included in the roster are mobile versions of popular casual games Uno, Puzzle Quest 2, Bejeweled, and Flight Control, as well as more traditional console fare such as Assassin's Creed, Castlevania, Guitar Hero 5, and the blockbuster Halo series.

Integration with Xbox Live means that those with Windows Phone 7 handsets will be able to access their friends lists, game library, and Xbox Live messages.

Also included are leaderboard rankings and a cumulative, personal Gamerscore that can be increased via PC, Xbox 360, and mobile phone games that work with the Xbox Live service.

Latest estimates for Windows Phone 7's release indicate an October launch is most likely for European users, with North Americans joining in by November, though Microsoft have refrained from naming specific dates or, indeed, confirming anything beyond 'Holiday 2010'.

Having elected to stand back from the handheld console market while Nintendo and Sony battled it out with their DS and PSP platforms, they look well poised to leapfrog their console competitors, but face a tough challenge cutting through the established enthusiasm for Apple and Android handsets.

Given the buzz enjoyed by the iPhone 4 since its June release, and Google's march into the game space with their browser-based Chrome Web Store also targeting October, Microsoft need to come up with something special to cement their presence in the mobile entertainment sector - this could be just the foot in the door that they need.