Steve Ballmer has added himself to a long list — the list of people who wish Windows Mobile 7 was already available.
Windows Mobile 7 is expected to be a significant revamp of Microsoft’s operating system for smartphones, but unconfirmed reports say it won’t be in customer hands until fall of 2010, a year from now.
Instead, the company is about to bring out Windows Mobile 6.5, a relatively small update to the current one.
Ballmer, the head of Microsoft after the retirement of Bill Gates, was speaking to venture capitalists yesterday when he reportedly expressed regret at the slow pace of progress in this operating system.
He went on to say that “This will not happen again.”
To help ensure this, Ballmer says they have brought new talent into the Windows Mobile team, but did not get more specific.
The new members of the team don’t appear to be able to speed up the release of Windows Mobile 7, but they still might be responsible for a quicker pace of OS updates.
According to a schedule that leaked out this summer, version 6.5 will be followed up in February with an update that makes this operating system more fingertip friendly. Exactly what this will include is not known, though.
Although Microsoft owns a significant chunk of the global smartphone market, it is facing strong competition from Apple, RIM, Nokia, Google, and even Palm. Many have accused Microsoft of moving slowly to respond.
For example, most of its rivals have moved to capacitive touchscreens, which let users control their devices with their fingertips rather than a stylus. Not a single Windows Mobile device with a capacitive screen has been released, and only one is rumored.
Only Nokia matches Microsoft in the slowness of its response to the new competitive environment.