Without officially announcing it, Microsoft has let it be known that it intends to take the wraps off Windows Mobile 7 next month. Details on this OS update continue to trickle out, like that it might offer just two possible screen resolutions.
Microsoft Entertainment & Devices President Robbie Bach, the man who heads up the division responsible for Windows mobile, promised recently that the next update for this OS will be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow in mid-February.
Windows Mobile 7 isn’t expected to launch at that time, just demonstrated. The first devices based on it are reportedly scheduled to be released in the second half of the year. This follows a familiar pattern for Microsoft: Windows Mobile 6.5 was unveiled at last year’s MWC, and the first phone running it hit the market in the fall.
Simplifying and Updating
With the announcement still a month away, few specifics are known about Windows Mobile 7, but Microsoft executives have started to talk about generalities.
The intention is clearly to make Windows phones more appealing to consumers. This OS has had a strong following among business users for years, but consumers have tended to go with rivals like the Apple iPhone.
It’s expected to do this by making the user interface fully usable with a fingertip and a capacitive touchscreen — Windows Mobile was first designed to be used with a stylus and a resistive touchscreen. A recent update, Windows Mobile 6.5, started to move in this direction.
In addition, several Microsoft executives have said that their company plans to reduce the hardware options it gives device makers.
An obvious example of this is screen resolutions. Currently, Windows Mobile supports a large number of these: QVGA, WQVGA, VGA, WVGA, and many more. Supporting all of these puts a strain on developers of the operating system and third-party software, especially as many of them are used in only one or two devices. Greg Sullivan, the head of marketing for Windows phones, says that in the future perhaps only two resolutions will be supported.
Sullivan says that another of the goals is to make sure the user interface is completely updated. “The legacy Pocket PC 1999 UI that still kind of shows up if you drill down pretty deep? That’s another thing that’s changed.”