By January 26, 2009

Windows Mobile 18 month plan

image Microsoft’s Andy Lees has been talking at length to CNET News about the future for Windows Mobile and as we expected the big changes we all want for the platform won’t appear until Windows Mobile 7 which will be seen in 2010 at the earliest. The upcoming 6.5 update will be a pacifier to provide more of a cosmetic update whilst the OS is re-written from the ground up. According to Andy, Microsoft embarked on a new strategy some time ago that will come to fruition over the next 18 months. The first steps in that strategy, he said, will be announced at the Mobile World Congress conference that takes place in Barcelona in the middle of next month.  "You are going to see a bunch of announcements at Mobile World Congress but also it is going to be the beginning of a 12-18 month period where you are going to see a whole bunch of different stuff," Lees said.

Part of Microsoft’s new strategy, Lees said, is not relying on operating system upgrades to improve its products. The new approach, while still making money by selling a mobile operating system, places considerable focus on services that help connect the phone to the PC and Web as well as devices such as the Xbox.

Microsoft has two separate teams at work on the services piece. One is Microsoft’s Windows Live group, while the other is a rather secretive group headed by former Mac unit head Roz Ho–a group that also includes the team Microsoft acquired when it bought Danger. Lees declined to say specifically what Ho is up to, however.

But Lees acknowledged the company also needs to improve that core operating system, which is widely seen as lagging that of most of its rivals.

For some time now, Microsoft has been working on a significant overhaul of its operating system, known as Windows Mobile 7. However, that project has hit delays, prompting Microsoft to push forward with an interim update, Windows Mobile 6.5, which the company is widely expected to detail next month. Lees declined to comment specifically on either version of the operating system, but promised the company would have more to say on the OS front in Barcelona.

Lees also promised that Microsoft would start working more closely with hardware makers. He pointed to deals late last year with LG and Samsung.

He noted that the power of the kinds of phones that come out next year will be incredible, well beyond even today’s devices. Phones next year will have dual-core processors, super-fast data connections, and graphics power rivaling that of the original Xbox.

"That’s a phenomenal thing on a phone," he said. The phones of the future will also have location information beyond just GPS sensors. "It will know where it is pointing, it will know which angle it is being held at."

Web browsing has been another weak spot for Microsoft. The company made up some ground late last year with a pocket browser that essentially crams the desktop Internet Explorer 6 into a Windows Mobile phone. But it lacks the kind of easy zooming and gesture recognition present on the iPhone or in Palm’s Pre. Lees promised that Microsoft would surpass those interfaces by the end of the year.

Lees would not confirm details of a rumored rival to Apple’s App Store, reportedly known as SkyMarket.

"There is some question whether we can more directly connect the developer and the end user," he said. "We’re looking at that."

via CNET News

Posted in: Phones

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