If iPhone is the king, defending from a virtually indestructible fortress, and Android is an orc army, steadily massing into an unstoppable force, the Windows Phone 7 is one of two things. It's either a gravely endangered extra, or it's Gandalf, shining from the hill.

While it would be a bold gambler who bets against Apple and Google, Windows Phone 7 is looking more like the White Wizard every day.

At GamesCom we learned that the platform would launch with 63 titles, amongst them versions of Crackdown and Halo, as well as some very intriguing independent titles. We also saw the phone in action, as a man from Microsoft poked and shook his Xbox Live avatar on a demonstration handset. It was neat.

Today we learn that multiplayer between phone and console may be real-time as well as asynchronous.

In the words of Microsoft's Greg Milligan, speaking to RGB Filter at Microsoft's X'10 event in Toronto: "We are working on real-time phone-to-console, likely initially through wi-fi.”

Milligan goes on to say that console-to-phone gaming won't be possible at the outset. “That's not on day one,” he says, “day one will be turn-by-turn as well as companion-type gaming where you play a level on the phone and it may unlock a level or a weapon or some special achievement on the console game."

When can we expect console-to-phone gaming? “In the near future.”

Joystiq