On Tuesday, Microsoft unexpectedly broke its silence about Windows Phone 7 sales and announced that its partners sold over 1.5 million devices in the first six weeks of availability. Windows Phone 7 launched in Europe in late October and then in North America on November 8.

"We are pleased that phone manufacturers sold over 1.5 million phones in the first six weeks, which helps build customer momentum and retail presence," Microsoft vice president Achim Berg said. "Early customer survey data on the overall software experience is very positive and the willingness to recommend our phone is very high. That’s really good for us."

Berg also reiterated a claim I've heard from various Microsoft sources over the past few months, that the software giant will stand behind Windows Phone 7 energetically until the platform is successful. "We know we have tough competition," he said, "and this is a completely new product. We're in the race—it's not a sprint but we are certainly gaining momentum—and we're in it for the long run."

According to Berg, initial Windows Phone 7 sales have met the company's expectations, which he said were "realistic for a new platform." "We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run," he reiterated. "Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning.  Our opportunity is to make sure people get to play with a Windows Phone. Once they do, they love it. This is very important for us."

With regards to catching up to the well-heeled competition—mostly Apple's iPhone and those devices based on Google Android—Berg says that Microsoft is "working on updates that will take us to the next level." And it plans to deliver first of several updates it has planned for the next couple of months.

So there you have it, folks: Microsoft has finally come clean about two issues it was previously silent on, sales figures for Windows Phone 7, and its plans for updating current phones with new capabilities and fixes.