Windows Mobile 7 May Be Delayed Even Further

Earlier this month at the Connect! technology summit in London, Phil Moore, Microsoft's head of mobility in the U.K., admitted that Microsoft was caught by surprise by Apple's iPhone but said Windows Mobile 7 will put Microsoft back into contention in the smartphone market.

"[Windows Mobile 7] has been put back until late next year but it is definitely coming," Moore reportedly said at the event.

It's a surprising admission given that Microsoft executives have studiously avoided questions about when Windows Mobile will arrive and what it will include. But Moore did offer the same vague promises Microsoft officials have made previously about the impact Windows Mobile 7 will have.

"You're going to see a lot more on Windows Mobile 7. Giving the enterprise users and consumers what they want will be part of Windows Mobile 7. You'll get flexibility on a much easier touch UI," Moore said at the event.

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Microsoft didn't respond to a request for comment on whether "late next year" means the fourth quarter of 2010. This timeframe would, however, contradict recent reports that Microsoft is planning to let mobile device makers start testing Windows Mobile 7 in the spring, with a formal launch coming in the third quarter.

Although Windows Mobile still has a foothold in businesses, Microsoft is falling behind quickly in the consumer smartphone market. Moore's comments suggest that Windows Mobile 7 will attempt to appease both types of customer, but one has to wonder if the repeated delays are the result of Microsoft trying to pack too many features into the release.

Microsoft knows it needs a home run to get back in the mobile game and start grabbing back market share, but Windows Mobile 7 is starting to look more like a Hail Mary pass. And as football fans know, these desperation heaves are intercepted more often than they're completed.