Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5 Appears on Verizon's HTC Imagio Phone

The HTC Imagio smartphone from Verizon is the latest to feature Microsoft's upcoming Windows Mobile 6.5, the mobile operating system scheduled to debut Oct. 6. Microsoft currently owns a small share of the mobile operating system market, a situation it no doubt hopes will change with the release of Windows Mobile 6.5 and then Windows Mobile 7 later in 2010. However, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is said to have admitted to regrets with regard to the company's Windows Mobile strategy.

Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system will appear on Verizon's HTC Imagio smartphone, adding to the number of smartphones utilizing the operating system.

The HTC Imagio, which will debut on Oct. 6, will retail for $199.99 after $100 mail-in rebate. It will feature Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional support with Office Mobile and Office Outlook Mobile. In addition, the phone will feature a 3.6-inch touch screen with on-screen QWERTY keyboard and support for Wi-Fi.

Microsoft's operating system has already been announced for a number of devices ahead of its rollout. The beginning of September saw Microsoft and a handful of manufacturing partners announce that Mobile 6.5 would debut on smartphone models from LG Electronics, HTC, Sony Ericsson and others. By the end of 2010, expect 13 Windows phones to have made their debut.

Despite the propagation of so many different phone models within the ecosystem, however, Microsoft has been struggling to increase its share of the mobile OS market.

At Microsoft's Venture Capital Summit on Sept. 24, CEO Steve Ballmer allegedly said that the company had made mistakes regarding Windows Mobile. Although no press were invited to the event, and Microsoft has refused to confirm any comments made there, a handful of venture capitalists sent messages via Twitter concerning Ballmer's statement. Hamburg-based investor Paul Jozefak wrote in a widely circulated Tweet: "Ballmer says they screwed up with Windows Mobile. Wishes they had already launched WM7. They completely revamped the team."

According to other Tweets, Ballmer said the Windows Mobile team had been "pumped" with "new talent." Version 6.5 will come with a number of incremental improvements over preceding versions, including widgets and expanded touch capabilities.

Microsoft's share of the mobile OS market declined to around 9 percent in the second quarter of 2009. Windows Mobile 6.5 will launch on Oct. 6, and Microsoft has been encouraging developers to create applications for the accompanying Windows Marketplace for Mobile. The hope is that with about 600 applications available at the time of the operating system's rollout, Windows Mobile 6.5 will be able to somewhat hold its own against stiff competition from operating systems running on the Apple iPhone, BlackBerry smartphones, the Palm Pre and other devices.

A mobile OS deal with a company like Verizon, said Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, can only help Microsoft as it fights for market share. "But an agreement like that is only one step," Kay said.

Windows Mobile 7 is widely expected to debut in the fourth quarter of 2010. Although details remain largely under wraps, the operating system will supposedly offer functionality that will allow phones running it to compete directly against the iPhone and the Pre.