As Microsoft moves to retrench its decade-long investment in Windows Phone — formerly named Windows Mobile — the company appears to be preparing to tie Xbox Live gaming into its mobile handset play.
At least, so go the rumors that erupted after Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) posted a recruitment ad looking for a program manager to work on bringing Xbox Live game play, and the Xbox Live brand, to its mobile offerings.
Gadget enthusiast site Engadget spotted the employment ad early Wednesday and highlighted it with a blog post.
The job posting appeared just before Christmas.
“We need a Principle Program Manager who can help drive the platform and bring Xbox LIVE enabled games to Windows Mobile. This person will focus specifically on what makes gaming experiences ‘LIVE Enabled’ through aspects such as avatar integration, social interactions, and multi-screen experiences,” the ad said.
One of the job’s requirements is that the qualified candidate must be a “gamer,” the ad stated.
Microsoft is keeping mum about its plans for the next major release of its mobile platform, although the rumor mill has Windows Phone 7 arriving near the end of 2010. That might make it a candidate, albeit early, for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to highlight at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Still, it takes typically six months or more from the time that Microsoft releases a new version of Windows Phone to the handset manufacturers to when the makers actually ship products with the new system.
Catching up after Windows Mobile 6.5
The company just heralded the release of phones featuring Windows Mobile 6.5 in October, but Microsoft has been widely perceived for years to be an also-ran in the mobile arena.
With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is shooting to catch up with Apple’s iPhone and other players. However, with its delivery reportedly not coming until this time next year, Microsoft needs to add features or capabilities that help set it apart from the competition.
“Microsoft’s phone offering is probably the weakest of their platforms,” Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, told InternetNews.com.
On the other hand, Xbox Live services have been a popular consumer offering — what Kay cited as “Microsoft’s most developed services offering for consumers.”
“Why don’t they take those services and put them with Windows Mobile, and have it dovetail with Windows Phone 7?” he added.
A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment regarding the job ad or future plans for Windows Phone or Xbox Live.