Microsoft declined to confirm reports that smartphones running Windows Mobile 6.x will not be upgradable to Windows Phone 7 Series, its new operating system. Microsoft has made a point of enforcing strict hardware requirements for devices that run Windows Phone 7 Series, which one Microsoft executive reportedly suggested would prevent even newer devices such as the HTC HD2 from running the new operating system. Microsoft previously refused to confirm whether Windows Mobile would be rebranded as Windows Phones Classic once Windows Phone 7 Series is issued to the marketplace at the end of 2010.
Microsoft refused to confirm widely circulated reports that smartphones
currently running Windows Mobile 6.x will not be upgradable to the new Windows
Phone 7 Series operating system.
Natasha Kwan, general manager of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business
in the Asia-Pacific region, is
quoted as saying in a March 1 article in APC magazine that
have very specific requirements for Windows Phone 7 Series, the current phones
we have right now will not be upgradable." The article further suggests
that the HTC HD2, a smartphone whose full touch screen would seemingly qualify
it to work with Windows Phone 7 Series' touch-centric interface, would not
qualify for upgrading to the new operating system because it has five buttons
instead of three.
When Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 Series at a Feb. 15 press conference
in Barcelona, Spain,
the company suggested that it would work with its hardware manufacturers to
restrict the devices' form factor to three buttons labeled Home, Search and
But Microsoft subsequently declined to confirm the quote from its executive.
"We are enforcing a strict set of hardware requirements to ensure a
consistently great experience for end-users and developers," a Microsoft
spokesperson wrote in a March 1 e-mail to eWEEK. "We cannot confirm that
WM6.X phones that satisfy those requirements will be upgradable."
On Feb. 16, rumors leaked online that Microsoft intended to rebrand Windows
Mobile as "Windows Phones Classic" once Windows Phone 7 Series made
its debut at an unannounced date later in 2010. Although Microsoft apparently
confirmed the change to Long Zheng, writer of the Istartedsomething blog
the company refused to confirm that same information with eWEEK.
"Microsoft has nothing to announce regarding any rebranding of Windows
Mobile 6.x," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote to eWEEK in a Feb. 18 e-mail.
Microsoft could be concerned that any show of Windows Mobile 6.x being
abandoned, or even rebranded, will result in a precipitous fall in sales of the
devices that run the operating system. With Windows Phone 7 Series not expected
to debut before an unnamed point near the end of 2010, such a dip could be
potentially harmful to both Microsoft and its manufacturing partners.
But the fate of Windows Mobile 6.5 remains of paramount importance to those
businesses that utilize the smartphone operating system in their daily
operations. Those companies were likely assuaged somewhat by Microsoft CEO
Steve Ballmer's assurance during the Barcelona
press conference that Windows Mobile 6.5 will continue to be supported after
Windows Phone 7 Series' release, but questions remain about whether
applications built for previous versions of the operating system will be
adaptable for the new one. Microsoft is expected to introduce further details
about Windows Phone 7 Series at its MIX 10 conference later in March.
Some details have leaked about the development platform behind Windows Phone
7 Series. On Feb. 18, the WMPoweruser blog posted what it
called leaked Windows Phone 7 development documents
, which featured
references to Silverlight, XNA and the .NET
Additionally, Microsoft has indicated it will offer a mobile applications
marketplace for Windows Phone 7 Series that will be released at some point
before the devices' launch.