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Windows Mobile set for refresh next month

2:09 PM Tue, Sep 01, 2009 |
Posted by: Walt Zwirko
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 While iPhone and BlackBerry models tend to get most of the attention, there are a lot of us who depend on smartphones powered by the Windows Mobile operating system.

So if you’ve got one in your pocket, circle October 6 on your calendar. That’s when Microsoft says Windows Mobile 6.5 will be released.

It doesn’t appear that there’s that much to be excited about, though.

As the naming convention would indicate, Windows Mobile 6.5 is an incremental update from the current 6.1 version.

The home screen (which is what you see when you pull the phone out of your holster or pocket) will now be capable of hosting dynamic content like news, scores and stock prices without having to click on e-mail or your browser.

I am looking forward to seeing improvements in what is currently an extremely lame Internet Explorer Mobile browser, which is almost unusable unless you access Web sites specifically designed for cell phone use.

I’ve come to rely on third-party browsers from Opera and Skyfire when I want to view a big-screen site on my pocket-size screen.

But the WinMo 6.5 version of IE is said to incorporate a version of Adobe’s Flash technology that could make it friendlier, especially when accessing multimedia content.

The new Windows Mobile will also be the first edition to have access to Windows Marketplace for Mobile, which will give users the ability to download and install new software from the handset, in much the same way Apple’s App Store is available for iPhone users and the BlackBerry App World is available for fans of that product.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has designed the Marketplace so that it will only work on version 6.5 devices and above, which will severely limit its initial impact.

The phone I’m currently using — the Samsung Jack — was sold with the promise that it will be upgradeable to WinMo 6.5, so I’ll give you a report after it becomes available.

It is not likely that Windows Mobile 6.5 will be an option for handsets prior to version 6; and it’s unclear how many of the more recent WinMo phones will qualify. That’s because upgrades are up to the phone manufacturer and the mobile carrier.

Since both are in the business of selling you new hardware, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

E-mail askwalt@wfaa.com




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