Check out this review and video of Microsoft’s new mobile operating system from our gadget guru Stephen H. Wildstrom
Windows Mobile 6.5: Call It ‘Windows Immobile’
Microsoft’s upgraded smartphone software shows improvement, but doesn’t even come close to challenging Apple’s iPhone
By Stephen H. Wildstrom
The last time Microsoft delivered a major upgrade to its smartphone software, Windows Mobile 6, in early 2007, Apple’s iPhone was still five months out on the horizon. You can tell how radically Apple changed expectations about smartphones if you pick up any Windows Mobile handset today. The software seems positively quaint.
On Oct. 6, Microsoft released a significant upgrade, Windows Mobile 6.5, on HTC handsets from AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Unfortunately the results fall far short of what Microsoft requires to get back into the top tier of mobile communications. And it won’t get another shot until version 7.0, a complete overhaul that should appear in late 2010.
Windows Mobile 6.5 sports a new screen design that eliminates just about all vestiges of the Windows desktop interface. In its place is a home screen inspired by Microsoft’s latest Zune media player and an iPhone-like grid of applications.
These changes help, but they don’t go far enough. The biggest problem with the design is that it has to work on a broad range of handsets. There are WinMo phones with touchscreens and physical keyboards, such as the European version of the HTC Touch pro2, which I used to test the software. There are also handsets with keyboards and no touchscreens, and those with touchscreens and no keyboards.