Microsoft's handset vendor partners are getting ready to unleash a barrage of Windows Mobile 6.5 devices on the market. But it's unclear whether Windows Mobile 6.5, which has been positioned as a stopgap until Windows Mobile 7 arrives, will have much of an impact on Microsoft's mobile fortunes.
According to a Wednesday report in Digitimes, more than 30 Windows Mobile 6.5 devices will hit the market by year's end, from vendors including HTC, Acer, Samsung, LG Electronics, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, and Hewlett-Packard.
Microsoft unveiled Windows Mobile 6.5 in February at the Mobile World Congress and highlighted its improved touch-screen user interface and navigation. The release is significant because it'll trigger the launch of Windows Marketplace For Mobile, Microsoft's answer to Apple's App Store, but otherwise, Windows Mobile 6.5 will be little more than a bandaid for Microsoft's mobile woes.
Microsoft has allowed Windows Mobile development to slow to a crawl, and longtime mobile industry partners have been growing frustrated with the repeated delays. Palm earlier this month said it'll stopped development of Windows Mobile devices to focus on its own WebOS. Motorola has been talking less about Windows Mobile while increasing its focus on Google's Android operating system.
Windows Mobile 7, which Microsoft says will offer a user experience commensurate with that of the highest-end smartphones, isn't expected to arrive until sometime next year, and Digitimes recently quoted unnamed sources that claim it won't launch until the fourth quarter of 2010.
Windows Mobile 6.5 phones will begin arriving on Oct. 6, and in North America, manufacturers include Hewlett-Packard, HTC, LG, Samsung and Toshiba. AT&T, Bell Mobility, Sprint, Telus, and Verizon Wireless will be the first carriers for Windows Mobile 6.5 devices.