Nokia ‘Ace’ Windows Phone May Get Hero’s Welcome in U.S.

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More than a year after the first Windows Phones launched in the United States, one of them may finally get star treatment.

Nokia’s Lumia 900, codenamed “Ace,” will launch in March on AT&T as a “hero” phone, Ed Oswald of Betanews reports, meaning it’ll get extra advertising and a big sales push at AT&T stores. Microsoft, AT&T and Nokia will reportedly spend about $100 million to market the phone.

(MORE: Nokia’s Lumia 800 Windows Phone: Why You Should Care)

The long delay in producing a prominent Windows Phone is understandable. Microsoft’s smartphone operating system had been half-baked up until last fall, with the launch of Windows Phone  7.5, an update that included multitasking, a more modern Web browser, threaded e-mails, Twitter integration and many other features.

Microsoft also lacked a hardware partner that wasn’t more interested in Android, until Nokia bet its future on Windows Phone. Nokia’s Lumia 800, which launched overseas last year, is an excellent phone, and the Lumia 900 will reportedly be quite similar, but with a larger screen and support for 4G LTE, according to PocketNow.

That’s where AT&T comes in. The company wants to feature phones that run on its new 4G LTE network, and Nokia’s Lumia 900 could fit the bill as one of the first Windows Phones to support those faster speeds (at least in cities where AT&T’s LTE network is up and running).

Since the launch of Windows Phone 7.5, Microsoft’s mobile operating system has been a critical hit but a commercial flop. Much of the blame has fallen on wireless carriers, who have done little to promote the phones in their stores. As PCMag reported last year, some retail employees have been steering customers away from Windows Phone in favor of Android and the iPhone. Hero status on a major wireless carrier is exactly what Windows Phone needs. If this doesn’t work, Microsoft and Nokia will really be in trouble.

(MORE: Renewed Hope for Nokia)