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AT&T launching 3 Microsoft-powered phones

NEW YORK — AT&T will launch three new smart phones ahead of the holiday shopping season that run on Microsoft’s new mobile software.

The phones will be a test of whether Microsoft Corp. can catch up with rivals in the fast-growing smart phone market. And they could help AT&T Inc. make up for a possible loss of its exclusive rights to sell Apple Inc.’s hugely popular iPhone.

Microsoft’s new software, called Windows Phone 7, will go up against both the iPhone and the expanding number of phones running on Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

The phones AT&T plans to launch will be manufactured by HTC Corp., LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. The first will go on sale Nov. 8, with two more coming a few weeks later.