Microsoft Launches Windows Mobile 6.5
This morning, Microsoft launched the first major upgrade to its mobile-phone software since 2007's mediocre Windows Mobile 6, which offered few upgrades from 2005's Windows Mobile 5. In that time, the smartphone universe has been upended by such gadgets as Apple's iPhone, Google Android-powered devices, and Palm's Pre - -and Windows Mobile has started showing its age. Badly.
Windows Mobile 6.5, which had its public debut in February, attempts to catch up with those competitors. It includes an updated Internet Explorer browser that can present full-sized pages with their looks and functions intact, a simpler program-management screen, a My Phone online-backup service, and -- perhaps most important in the long term -- Windows Marketplace for Mobile, intended to match Apple's App Store, Google's Android Market and Palm's App Catalog in providing simple browsing and installation of add-on software.
But although programmers have been writing software for Microsoft's mobile-phone operating systems for more than a decade -- last month, Windows Mobile product manager Greg Sullivan said more than 20,000 Win Mobile apps were available -- the Marketplace features only a tiny subset of that selection: 246 programs, according to Microsoft's press release.
In the U.S., AT&T Wireless, Sprint and Verizon Wireless now sell or will soon offer Win Mobile 6.5 phones from manufacturers HTC and Samsung. I'm trying out AT&T's HTC Pure (pictured here), although you'll have to wait until this weekend's column to see my take on that device and another new smartphone I've been looking forward to testing, Sprint's Android HTC Hero.
In the meantime, initial reactions elsewhere to Win Mobile 6.5 don't seem too complimentary -- see, for instance, PC World's roundup of the first batch of reviews.
I haven't read those evaluations beyond their headlines, because I'd rather assess this software without having other reviewers' assessments in my head. But there is one outside perspective I could use as I write this review: that of longtime Windows Mobile users pondering an upgrade. What would you want to see a new release of Windows Mobile do? What faults should it correct? What features should it add? What should it leave alone? Post your wish list in the comments and I'll see how this phone and its software match up.
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