Microsoft Announces Windows Mobile 6.1

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After a long delay, Microsoft has at last publicly revealed the new update to its mobile operating system, as well as photos and details of new features, and what devices will receive upgrades.

Dubbed Windows Mobile 6.1, this latest version of the Windows Mobile platform offers features geared for both business users and consumers, emphasising security and device management for the former, along with messaging, multimedia, and web browsing for the latter.

Business Features

Among the additions and enhancements targeted at enterprise buyers, 6.1 promises more extensive device management options, in the form of the System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008, and the "Microsoft Mobile Services Plan," both designed to allow businesses to control their devices and allow secure access to company information.

Messaging, Internet For Consumers

Windows Mobile

Non-business users will likely find more to interest them in the implementation of features such as threaded SMS messaging, which allows the user to view an exchange of text messages in a format similar to internet-based instant messaging programs.

Internet Explorer Mobile has also been retooled to provide somewhat better performance on low resolution screens, a new and improved browser engine based on IE6, and a "zoom out" feature for looking at an overview of web pages.

New Smartphone Interface

Windows Mobile 6.1

The biggest change, however, is the use of a new "carousel" interface on the non-touchscreen Windows Mobile Standard version of the OS. This presents users with a vertical listing of essential data, items on which can be highlighted and "rotated" left or right to provide context-sensitive functions.

Examples include controlling Windows Media Player directly from the home screen; previewing thumbnails of available photos on the device; checking received SMS messages and composing new ones; and a variety of other common tasks.

Users who don’t wish to employ the "carousel" design can still switch back to the old-style Home screens.

Backlog Of Devices

Prospective buyers are likely to see devices running the new operating system in less time than is normal for an OS release. A number of manufacturers have been waiting on Microsoft’s official announcement to launch their products, since these companies couldn’t fully show off products running an operating system that was not released.

Windows Mobile 6.1

Some existing devices are also likely to get Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrades, including the AT&T Tilt (also known as the HTC Kaiser), HTC Touch Dual, and the Samsung BlackJack II.

Update: According to Microsoft’s press release, other devices receiving Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrades will include the Motorola Q9, HTC Mogul and Touch models, Samsung Ace, and the Pantech Duo. A full list is included on Microsoft’s web site.

Update 2: TechnologyGuide’s Kevin O’Brien was at the announcement keynote, and offers several additional notes, as well as some photos of the official Microsoft demonstration.

The most significant addition is native Flash support coming in a version of Internet Explorer Mobile that will be released later this year.

Additional Photos

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