Windows Phone 7 may only have around a 3% market share in the UK, but Microsoft has ambitious plans for its mobile OS, and getting developers onside and making top-quality apps for the platform is a key part of that strategy.
So next week should be particularly important for Microsoft, then, as we're hearing that's when the software giant is widely expected to start sending out dedicated handsets running a developer build of the forthcoming Mango update.
Microsoft has been talking up Mango practically since Windows Phone 7 first appeared the best part of a year ago, saying that's when we'll start to see WinPho getting somewhere near its full potential.
Mango was officially announced last month, but is only expected to be released into the wild in the autumn. In the meantime, though, developers need a way of testing out apps that tap into Mango's new hardware features, which is a problem as such hardware doesn't exist yet.
Microsoft's solution is to provide developers with a special handset running a pre-release version of Mango so they can test out their apps in a real hardware environment. And now WinRumors claims those handsets will be heading out next week.
It's highly unlikely that the phones will be a full production model destined for general release. But they will nonetheless mark an opportunity to get to grips with the next release of Windows Phone, so we're hoping for plenty more details about just what Mango has to offer to emerge over the next month or two as developers delve into the code.