It has been rumored for years that Microsoft is going to make its Zune media player into an iPhone competitor, and that will apparently come into being with the release of Windows Mobile 7. This will supposedly allow companies to make phones with an emphasis on music and video.
Several unconfirmed reports have come out describing Microsoft's plan to integrate Zune functionality into its smartphone operating system. And this will allegedly go far beyond a new version of the music player -- it will be no less than a complete re-vamp.
According to sources who claim to have inside information on Microsoft's plans, the next version will have a user interface that greatly resembles the one on the Microsoft Zune.
Because of its strong emphasis on music and video, it will use the Zune's desktop application, not the Windows Mobile Device Center that is used now.
Social networking will also be emphasized, with Facebook and Twitter integrated into the user interface. There will also be some integration with Xbox live.
Windows Mobile 7 will supposedly have some features in common with the iPhone, and not necessarily peoples' favorite ones: it will lack support for running multiple applications at the same time, and users will only be able to install applications from an online store.
Because of all the changes, the next version of this operating system will allegedly lack the ability to run current software.
Companies making devices based on this operating system will not have some of the freedom to customize that they do now. No custom user interfaces will be allowed, for example.
What about Business Users?
At this point, those who are using Windows Mobile for business might be thinking they are being thrown under the bus. However, at least one source of information says that all the reports of Zune integration tell only half the story.
There will supposedly be a second edition of Windows Mobile 7 that will be the clearest successor to the current version. This will offer all the features users are accustomed to: compatibility with current apps, multi-tasking, etc.
There will be changes, though. Windows Mobile 7 Business Edition will reportedly put much of its focus on a new version of Microsoft Office Mobile, which will include real-time collaboration tools.
Answers Coming Next Week
Microsoft executives have promised that they will be talking about the next version of Windows Mobile at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow next week. It's generally assumed that CEO Steve Ballmer will give the world its first look at Windows Mobile 7 at that time.
However, the first models running this new version aren't expected before early fall.
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