It's widely know that Microsoft has set some pretty specific restrictions on Windows Phone 7, their new mobile OS. For example, hardware running WP7 must have a touchscreen 3.5-inches or larger in a slate or slide out form factor. Now Microsoft has let slip that they're adding another form factor to the WP7-approved list: the portrait QWERTY "BlackBerry style" handset. Paul Foster, Microsoft's ISV "developer evangelist," said in a recent interview that Windows Phone 7 devices will also be coming on "480 x 320 for ‘BlackBerry’ style handsets that can incorporate a Qwerty on the front of the device." No word on when we'll see these kinds of phones, but it probably won't be until some time next year.
I'm not surprised that Microsoft is going to allow Windows Phone 7 devices to be made in a form factor similar to BlackBerrys. After all, businesspeople often love their 'Berrys, and Microsoft can probably get a good chunk of that audience considering many of those users have owned, or may still own, a Windows Mobile handset. The portrait QWERTY, BlackBerry-style is a very popular design, and I'm sure that there will be more than a few customers who flock to WP7 just for this form factor, especially since it's not something you often see outside of the BlackBerry platform. Are any of you considering a Windows Phone 7 handset now that you know they'll be coming in BlackBerry-ish designs?