Microsoft has dropped strong hints, and there have been rumors, but it has now been spelled out: the upcoming Windows Phone 7 will be a complete break from the past, and third-party software written for the current version of Microsoft's smartphone OS will not run on the next version.
Although Windows Phone 7 was officially announced several weeks ago, devices running it won't be on the market until late this year, and Microsoft has been cagey about revealing many of the details about it.
One of the areas that hasn't yet been clearly spelled out is the process developers will need to go through to write software for what is essentially a new platform. However, unofficial reports have indicated that Windows Phone 7 will not offer backward compatibility.
This has now been confirmed. Charlie Kindel, Microsoft's Partner Group Program Manager for the Windows Phone Application Platform & Developer Experience, wrote in his official blog:
"To enable the fantastic user experiences you've seen in the Windows Phone 7 Series demos so far we've had to break from the past. To deliver what developers expect in the developer platform we've had to change how phone apps were written. One result of this is previous Windows Mobile applications will not run on Windows Phone 7 Series."
However, he pointed out that this doesn't mean the end of current Windows Mobile development.
"We will continue to work with our partners to deliver new devices based on Windows Mobile 6.5 and will support those products for many years to come, so it’s not as though one line ends as soon as the other begins."
A Total Break
In addition to now offering backward software compatibility, Windows Phone 7 is also going to require all new smartphones.
A Microsoft executive said this week that the strict hardware requirements for the new version of this operating system will exclude every current model.
More about Windows Phone 7
Despite its name, Microsoft's next smartphone operating system has little in common with its predecessors. It will have a completely different user interface and, as mentioned earlier, won't run applications written for the earlier versions nor will any current models be upgradeable.
Its focus has moved to consumers, and its UI emphasizes social networking, pictures, games, etc. It has also been redesigned to be controlled with a fingertip.
Just about the only significant similarity between old and new is that both include Microsoft Office Mobile and support for synchronizing with Microsoft Exchange.
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