In the past week, Microsoft has officially/finally released the Windows Mobile 6.5 mobile operating system – and yes in case you haven’t followed, Windows 7 for the desktop and laptop PCs is coming soon, as is Windows Mobile 7. That’s just one part of what is bound to be a very confusing period in the word of operating systems.
Windows Mobile 6.5 was made official at the recent CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment conference in San Diego, California. And if I must digress for a moment, the conference agenda sounds just as confusing. IT & Entertainment aren’t usually two things that go together, unless you’re setting for a LAN (as in Local Area Network) gaming party. Those can be a lot of fun, and no doubt IT types are great at setting up and hosting these, but beyond that, IT isn’t usually about entertainment. But not having been at the conference I guess I can’t really comment more.
So moving on. Where the confusion really gets interesting is that Windows phones have arrived as well. But unlike the iPhone or BlackBerry or Palm devices, there is really no Windows phone per say, but rather Windows phones are just the branding of devices that run the Windows Mobile 6.5 OS. Thus new handsets from HTC, LG and Samsung fall into this category. This could be a little confusing for users, as this also means there isn’t just one handset that is the Windows Phone.
Of course, I’m in the camp that believes that in the long run the iPhone could suffer because there is only a single model. Yes, this model has been embraced by a large user base, and there is something to be said for conformity. However, one device doesn’t fit all, so this could actually help the Windows phones as it gives users something that the iPhone doesn’t – and that of course is choice. In the short term, however, it is still confusing because devices such as the iPhone, and even to an extent the BlackBerry haven’t offered a lot of choice. But as Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry learned, users like to be able to pick and choose.
Many believe Microsoft is on to something by sticking to the operating system and letting the hardware makers focus on the devices. As we’ve touched upon a bit already in recent weeks, Windows Mobile 6.5 is the latest, but hardly the greatest – and we won’t really see the latest and greatest at least until next year when Windows Mobile 7 arrives. For now, Microsoft is confirming that this is still a significant step forward, and this gets back to the IT stuff.
It was revealed at the CTIA event that the OS would have the same level of security and management features as previous versions of Windows Mobile. But the company stresses that this new version is meant to be a “Life Maximizer” so users can get all their e-mail and other information sent to a single device (something most smartphones can already do). More importantly, this version of Windows Mobile features the newest version of Internet Explorer (IE) with support for Adobe Flash Lite to enhance the browsing experience. Of course the OS has improved the Exchange Server synchronization, as well as Outlook Mobile. Better still for business users, Mobile Office is included making viewing and editing of Office documents from the devices.