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Windows Mobile 6.1 and 7.0 will take on iPhone with FEATURES
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Fri Jan 18, 2008 6:39 am Reply and quote this post
Windows Mobile, like Windows itself, has had a checkered history. Earlyversions were maligned as being feature-poor and difficult to use.However, in a tale familiar to anyone who has followed Microsoft, thecompany stuck at it, and the portable operating system started to comeinto its own. The most recent release, Windows Mobile 6.0, added Vista-like themes to go along with a significant upgrade to the OS internals. Having conquered Palm in the dying PDA market,Windows Mobile was now ready to go toe-to-toe with other phoneoperating systems and platforms such as BlackBerry, Symbian and variousLinux derivatives.
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All seemed well in Windows Mobile land, but then Apple released theiPhone running a stripped-down version of OS X and a new multitouchuser interface. Despite Steve Ballmer's prediction that the phone had "no chance" of gaining significant market share, a recent surveyby Net Applications showed the iPhone actually overtaking WindowsMobile in web browsing share: 0.09 percent for the iPhone versus 0.06percent for all Windows CE and Mobile devices put together. All of asudden Windows Mobile phones seemed like they were stuck in the past,and minor UI annoyances stuck out like a sore thumb.

Windows Mobile 6.1. Image courtesy Boy Genius.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Microsoft is busily preparingboth a minor UI refresh (Windows Mobile 6.1) and a major new release ofthe operating system (Windows Mobile 7.0). A gallery of screen shotsfrom the 6.1 refresh compiled by Boy Genius shows an emphasis onsimplification: the screens are more task-oriented and have lessclutter than their immediate predecessor. A new and clearer font adornsthe UI, and new features such as zooming, copy and paste in InternetExplorer, and auto-configuring ActiveSync for e-mails are sure to bewelcome additions to the platform. In addition, Microsoft is making iteasier (and more Windows-like) to switch tasks by adding a standardizedtask manager to the platform.
As far as Windows Mobile 7.0 goes, there are no leaked screen shots asof yet, but big changes are afoot. Microsoft plans to completely redoapplications such as Internet Explorer, bringing the mobile browser upto par with Apple's Mobile Safari. The e-mail and SMS applications arealso scheduled for complete rewrites. Microsoft plans to make the userinterface even more consumer-friendly.
Beyond 7.0, Microsoft is even hinting at a completely redesignedWindows Mobile 8.0, which will again redo the internals of theoperating system to keep up with newer and more powerful mobilehardware. Details for this release are scarce, although Microsoftpromises features such as being able to go from a person's address intheir contact info directly to a map view with directions to where theylive. It all sounds like the iPhone really lit a fire under theposteriors of the Windows Mobile team, and that can only be good newsfor smartphone users.
Further reading

  • Gizmodo has an in-depth interviewwith a couple of members of the Windows Mobile dev team, discussingwhat they believe is wrong with Windows Mobile 6 and how they plan tofix it
  • Microsoft may have iPhone on the brain as it works on future versions of Windows Mobile, but CEO Steve Ballmer isn't too concerned about Google's Android platform.
  • Windows Mobile 6 was released last February. Reread our impressions of it as you look ahead to Windows Mobile 6.1 and 7.0

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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