Microsoft Offers Limited Peek At Next Update to Windows Mobile

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Microsoft has offered a limited viewing of the next update to the Windows Mobile 6 operating system to a handful of selectees.

Little  Information Allowed Out

A briefing on the new OS was given at the company’s annual Mobius conference. Information disclosed at these events is covered by a limited form of non-disclosure agreement: participants are allowed to publish impressions of what they’ve been shown, but almost no actual details, other than those approved of by the company.

Windows MobileWhat is being made public is that the new version being shown is an update, not a complete new version of Windows Mobile. It is not the OS reputedly code-named "Photon," which is also expected next year. The update, which many outlets are referring to as Windows Mobile 6.1, will be free to licensees, who will receive it some time in the first quarter of 2008, likely February.

The update was demonstrated on current hardware released within the last 18 months, with reactions to the demo being generally very positive, emphasizing visible changes to the OS and notable, though not major, increases in functionality.

"…it looked freaking impressive, I want it NOW…and that’s all I’m going to say about that." (Gear Diary)

"…My impression was extremely positive – not jaw-dropping, "How did they do that?" positive, but a lot of head-nodding and "Finally!" positive." (Pocket PC Thoughts)

The likelihood of upgrades for existing devices is unclear. While current hardware can run the update, availability may be dependent on manufacturer ROM updates.

UPDATE (12/4/2007): A pre-release device running Windows Mobile 6.1 has been found, and a fairly complete overview of the changes in the Standard version of this operating system can now be found in this article.

Rumors of a New Interface

Dutch-language website PocketInfo.nl has previously reported that the Windows Mobile 6.1 update is going to feature a new user interface, similar to the one designed by Microsoft and Vodafone for the Treo 500v, which has a carousel-style launcher.

The new UI would feature the ability to switch between categories which contain a variety of user options. This description greatly resembles a recent patent that Microsoft was granted for mobile device interfaces.

However, discussion threads and articles concerning these rumors have disappeared from at least two sites, implying that Microsoft’s legal team is moving to squash such reports.


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