It looks like you'll barely have time to get the wrapper off Windows Mobile 6.5 before Windows Mobile 7 will move in to replace it.
Yesterday, at a "strategic update meeting," Microsoft Chief Steve Ballmer said the company will release Windows Mobile 7 -- Microsoft's OS for smart phones -- in 2010. That statement is a little surprising when you consider Microsoft just last week introduced Windows Mobile 6.5, which isn't slated to ship until later this year.
With Windows Mobile 7 coming out so soon, some people may just forget about Mobile 6.5 altogether and wait for the more advanced system. This is particularly problematic for Microsoft, since it's already clear that Windows 6.0 and 6.1 device owners won't be able to run Mobile 6.5. So if Mobile 7 is also going to require a new device, then why not wait a few more months for the newer system?
However, rushing through to Mobile 7 may be Microsoft's attempt to overtake its competitors by offering two significant platform releases relatively close together. Ballmer sees the smart phone market as one of Microsoft's biggest areas for expansion in the coming months, despite the economic downturn. He said the company is investing heavily in that area as Windows and Windows Mobile continue to share technology. Ballmer said he also looks forward to the day when the two systems are based on the same central components. At that point, the lines will truly be blurred between the smart phone and the PC, and that's where Ballmer says Microsoft is headed.
Nevertheless, Microsoft's chief confirmed the company will not release its own phone. "It's our strategy to sell software that we can use and support across a wide range of device manufacturers to encourage choice... in devices [and]...in the operators," Ballmer said.
Ballmer didn't provide any details about what Windows Mobile 7 would look like or what it could do that would warrant such a quick release, but you can bet it will be tied very closely to its desktop cousin Windows 7.