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Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 12:50 pm PT (03:50 pm ET)

Microsoft ships 2 million Windows Phone 7 handsets in holiday quarter

Microsoft on Wednesday revealed that it shipped two million Windows Phone 7 handsets worldwide over the holiday quarter, lagging well behind the 16.2 million iPhones sold by Apple in the same period.

Microsoft Senior Product Manager Greg Sullivan revealed to Ina Fried of Mobilized that more than two million Windows Phone 7 devices were shipped to carriers worldwide by the end of December. It's the first update from Microsoft since the Windows maker revealed it had shipped 1.5 million handsets in mid-December.

"We're still in the early stages," Sullivan said. "When people use this phone, they really, really like it."

He added that 93 percent of early customers indicated they are "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with Windows Phone 7. Based on customer satisfaction data, Sullivan said he believes Microsoft is on the right track.

The company did not, however, reveal how many of those shipped phones were actually sold to consumers. The total number represents handsets shipped to carriers, not end sales.

Regardless, the numbers are well behind Apple's iPhone, which recently had a record breaking quarter with sales of 16.2 million units over the 2010 holiday buying season. Windows Phone 7 launched in parts of Europe and Asia on Oct. 21, and in the U.S. on Nov. 8.

The shipment numbers for Windows Phone 7 are also lower that those reported by Gartner for Microsoft's own, earlier Windows Mobile 6.x platform in the third quarter of 2010, which amounted to 2.25 million units worldwide.

Microsoft will further discuss the launch of Windows Phone 7 when it reports its quarterly earnings on Thursday. Expectations on Wall Street are for the Redmond, Wash., software giant to report earnings of $5.93 billion which, if accurate, would lag behind the $6 billion in quarterly profits reported by Apple last week.