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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Microsoft unveils Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system

Microsoft Corp revealsits Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system on February 16, 2009 at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The so called called "Windows phones" that focus on touch-friendly features and quicker navigation, acknowledging the influence of the iPhone. The phones should ship as early as July. The current Windows Mobile 6.1 and earlier versions that has been termed "kludgy" or even unsophisticated when compared with those in newer smartphones by competitors. One often-criticized feature in 6.1 isthe long time it takes to boot the operating system -- does not seem to have been significantly improved in 6.5. It is unclear if the boot time in the shipping version of 6.5 will be reduced compared to 6.1. LG Electronics announced it is making Windows Mobile its primary smartphone platform, with 26 different mobile models using the operating system in 2012 all the same. Motorola,however recently said it will wait for Windows Mobile 7.0 to ship sometime in 2010 for its smartphones, skipping over the 6.5 release.

Greg Sullivan, senior product manager at Microsoft demonstrated beta software of 6.5 on an HTC Touch Pro , but handheld makers were expected to show new devices that Microsoft has decided to brand as "Windows phones" and that will ship early in the second half of 2009 using the updated operating system.

Microsoft has been concerned that its role in the highly competitive smartphone market has been diluted, especially because of the success of Apple, which makes the iPhone's operating system as well as the device, and Research In Motion Ltd., which makes the operating system for its many BlackBerry models.

Last year four major manufacturers shipped more than 20 million phones with Windows Mobile. The 6.5 operating system allows "fat finger touching" on a resistive touch screen, rather than requiring a user to pull out a stylus to make more precise touches as in earlier versions of the operating system. This enable a user to make touches on smaller smartphones with one hand, using the thumb for touching icons. Another, the "Today" screen allows users at the home screen to quickly get to applications with a simple drag of an icon. A user also can see a missed a phone call, e-mail or text message, and touch that message to quickly launch a return call, without the need to unlock the smartphone and load the voice calling, text or e-mail application with what could amount to several steps. The browser in Version 6.5 provides a built-in Flash video player as well as pan and zoom capabilities with the touch of a finger. It is built on HTML rendering done by Microsoft for its desktop Internet Explorer 7 version.

Microsoft's recently announced My Phone sync and backup service will also ship with the 6.5 phones. That service will give users 200MB of free storage, which is useful for users who want to store e-mail or other data for transfer to another device. Microsoft also plans to launch Windows Marketplace for Mobile and will allow a user to control the applications from both the phone and the Web, similar to Apple's AppStore and other online storefronts from other operating system providers.

Microsoft surely needs to get 6.5 shipping "as soon as possible" to remain competitive.

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