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CES: Windows Phones Coming To Sprint. Later.

Tickers in this article: MSFT S

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - In the consumer electronics-centric world we inhabit it's not unusual for manufacturers to refresh and update their products a few times each year. Laptops and tablets have a shelf life of a few months. And there are new smartphones announced every few weeks, it seems.

That's why the latest announcement from Sprint(S) is so puzzling. Yes, it's true that Sprint is the last of the big four U.S. cellular providers to offer smartphones which run Microsoft's(MSFT) Windows Phone 8 operating system. And yes, the yearly Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is a good time to announce new models.

So, it wasn't really surprising that yesterday Sprint announced it would begin selling Windows phones. Models made by both HTC and Samsung. Phones which will be able to take advantage of Sprint's 4G/LTE network currently being rolled out nationwide. (Now available in 49 markets and counting).

But, what's strange is that Sprint won't start selling these Windows 8 phones until this summer. Months from now.

I'm guessing it's because Microsoft is currently in a funk with its Windows 8 products. Buyers aren't knocking down doors to buy new W8 laptops, tablets or smartphones. So, it looks like Redmond is putting a little pressure on Sprint to join in the fun. This is a portion of Sprint's official press release:

"Windows Phone 8 offers a truly personal phone experience, connecting Sprint customers to the people and information that matters most to them. With a similar look and feel, the same technology core, and the same built-in SkyDrive cloud service, Windows Phone 8 is built to work seamlessly with Windows 8 PCs, Microsoft Surface devices and the Xbox 360 console."

"Sprint has had a strong relationship with Microsoft for many years so we are excited to reinforce our commitment to the Windows 8 platform by sharing the details and timing for our first Windows Phone 8 smartphones," said Fared Adib, Sprint senior vice president, product development and operations. "These smartphones combine a robust new operating platform with the benefit of Sprint's unlimited data plans. There is no doubt these phones will quickly become an extension of your PC experience right in the palm of your hand."

Sprint also points out that these two new devices will be the only Windows 8 phones that can run on the telecom giant's Truly Unlimited 4G/LTE data, text and calling plan for $80 a month.

There's now a special Windows Phone 8 page on Sprint's Web site which touts what the mobile OS can do - but is short on details of the upcoming phones.

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--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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