Microsoft will unveil its Windows Mobile 7 smartphone operating system during a Feb. 15 presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Spain, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.
"At a wireless industry conference in Barcelona on Monday, the company plans to publicly show a new version of its cellphone operating system, Windows Mobile 7, for the first time," The Wall Street Journal's Nick Wingfield wrote in a Feb. 12 article, citing unnamed sources "familiar with the matter."
According to Wingfield, Mobile 7's user interface will be reminiscent of the Zune HD, Microsoft's touch-screen media player. The Zune HD includes a device-customized version of Internet Explorer, a touch-screen QWERTY keyboard and touch-to-zoom capability; a feature called QuickPlay allows users to choose music playlists, video and other media from a simple-to-access menu.
In addition to Windows Mobile, software updates from Google Android, Symbian and Opera are expected to make appearances at the Mobile World Congress, as are new devices from the likes of HTC, Samsung and LG.
Rumors of a Microsoft announcement at the Mobile World Congress have been circulating for some time, even before the company announced a Feb. 15 presentation. Online pundits and analysts seemed of two minds about whether Microsoft would finally announce the much-rumored Windows Mobile 7, or if it would offer a radical revamping of its Mobile 6.5, which was launched in early October 2009.
Complicating the latter theory was the fact that Microsoft has already begun introducing updates to Mobile 6.5, notably Version 6.5.3, which rolled out on the Sony Ericsson Aspen smartphone on Feb. 2. Last year, Microsoft also attempted to pre-empt Mobile for greater penetration in the smartphone OS market by introducing Windows Marketplace for Mobile, a mobile-applications competitor to Apple's App Store and other proprietary services. After introducing the storefront in October with 246 applications, however, that number has only increased to 718 for U.S.-based Mobile 6.x smartphones; by comparison, Apple's App Store is predicted by research firm IDC to have 300,000 apps in stock by year's end.
Microsoft's share of the smartphone operating system market declined by 1 point, to 18 percent, between September and December 2009; Research In Motion also fell by the same amount, while Google and Apple saw incremental gains. Microsoft's evident hope is that Mobile 7 will allow it to reverse that trend.