Sources have told Bloomberg that Microsoft is working on bringing Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to Windows Phone 7-powered handsets, ensuring the Redmond-based company is not left behind Google’s Android platform and also iOS, should reports that Apple is to debut the technology inside its platform be true.
If the reports are true, Microsoft would work much the same as Google did, including NFC support within its most current mobile operating system, allowing mobile manufacturers to develop the hardware to make use of the functionality embedded within the software.
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According to the same sources, the first NFC-enabled Windows Phone 7 devices will become available later this year, allowing users to interact wirelessly with payment terminals, loyalty systems and door-entry systems, equipping smartphones with the functionality to become a new form of digital wallet.
Microsoft will almost definitely receive support from its mobile partner Nokia, which recently announced it would make Windows Phone 7 its primary mobile platform. Bloomberg reports that the Finnish manufacturer said it would make NFC a standard feature of its 2011 smartphones, coinciding with the fact that Windows Phone 7-powered Nokia phones will also hit the market at that time.
With Android already supporting NFC and companies including Microsoft and RIM already working on developing the technology within their software, Apple could be the only major smartphone platform without any form of wireless payment technology. The Cupertino-based company remains predictably quiet so we will have to wait until its next major unveiling to see whether it is readying NFC devices on its own.