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During Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Sunday, Microsoft announced that it is partnering with 9 new companies to develop Windows Phone devices. Additionally, the firm shed some light on what to expect from Windows Phone moving forward.

The nine new partners include ZTE, Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG and Longcheer. Several of those will very likely help Microsoft boost its market share in China, one of the primary emerging market battlegrounds in mobile. Oddly enough, however, LG isn’t exactly a “new” partner, either, since it already developed and sold a Windows Phone device. Microsoft also touched on some Windows Phone updates.

The platform is adding support for Qualcomm’s lower-end Snapdragon 200 and Snapdragon 400 processor. With “TD-SCMA” mentioned (we think Microsoft meant TD-SCDMA), it also looks like Microsoft is working to get a Windows Phone device on China Mobile, which uses that network. Also, Microsoft is adding support for two SIM cards and soft keys. Here’s where it gets even more interesting: Microsoft said it hopes companies ultimately use the “same hardware for both Android and Windows Phone devices.” Soon, users will also be able to save apps directly to a microSD card, something that has limited Windows Phone in the past.

Microsoft will probably announce Windows Phone 8.1 during its BUILD developer in April. That’s where we expect to hear all of the new features such as the Cortana assistant, a new Action menu and more.

Source Microsoft