Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.5, the newest version of its operating system for mobile devices, includes improved touch capabilities and several screens specifically designed to answer similar features available on Apple's iPhone, the Palm Pre and other smartphones. In addition, Microsoft plans on rolling out Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which will allow developers to submit applications for use in the Windows Mobile ecosystem.
Windows Mobile 6.5, its upcoming operating system for mobile devices, includes
a number of new features seemingly tailor-made to counter similar offerings
from Apple's iPhone, the Palm Pre and other attention-grabbing smartphones.
The new features include improved touch capabilities, including gestures
such as tapping, tapping and holding, panning, and flicking in order to
navigate through the Mobile interface-a direct response
to the touch-screen capabilities of the iPhone and Palm Pre.
In addition, Mobile's Start
screen offers access to customizable widgets, as well as fast access to e-mail,
and phone and instant messages. The screen itself has been divided into a
honeycomb configuration for easier finger manipulation.
The Lock screen allows the user to input a pin in order to interact with
message notifications, such as missed calls and voicemail, without necessarily
needing to unlock the device.
The new version of the Internet Explorer Mobile browser, utilizing Adobe
Flash Lite, has features tailored to mobile search, such as auto-complete
suggestions and the ability to search within the address bar of the browser.
Microsoft's software for syncing and information backup, called My Phone,
relies on users inputting their Windows Live ID to access and manage their personal
content using the Web. In addition, Windows Mobile 6.5 includes support for
Windows Live Search, and Windows Live Messenger for instant-messaging
Starting this autumn, Windows Mobile 6.5 will also connect to Windows
Marketplace for Mobile. On July 14,
Microsoft announced that Windows Marketplace for Mobile will not only open
itself later in the month to developer submissions, and feature a dedicated
Business section for enterprise applications, but
it will also support Windows Mobile 6.0 and Windows Mobile 6.1 devices.
This was a definite contrast to when Windows Marketplace was first announced
and Microsoft insisted that only mobile devices running Windows Mobile 6.5 and
above would be supported. By extending the umbrella to cover older versions of
Windows Mobile, it seems that Microsoft is seeking a larger body of potential
customers with which to complete against Apple, Research In Motion, Google and
other companies that have already managed to build a substantial lead in the
By the time Windows Marketplace launches, Microsoft plans to have 600
applications available. While this beats out Palm's App Catalogue, which passed
the 1 million downloads mark on June 24, it lags far behind Apple's App Store,
which has over 65,000 apps. Apple claims that some 1.5 billion apps have been
downloaded so far.
to certain writers, those sorts of numbers will translate into an uphill
battle for Microsoft as it attempts to disseminate its vision for mobile
computing. The potential rewards, however, are enormous; according to a report
by Juniper Research, there
will be nearly 20 billion mobile-application downloads per year by 2014.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.