Digitimes has a report on an alleged roadmap for Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform. It seems that the Redmond giant has opted for a dual approach: they will release Windows Mobile 6.5, then upgrade it, and keep it alive even after Windows Mobile 7 arrives in late 2010. One cannot help but wonder how this approach will help the aging WinMo platform keep up with iPhone OS and Android, and my guess is: it won’t.
According to Digitimes, Microsoft will launch Windows Mobile 6.5 in October 2009 (it’s a tad late; it was supposed to arrive in September), but that actually won’t be the really good Windows Mobile 6.5 we’d like to see. A crucial feature – touch interface, which most of the competitors, such as HTC Hero, Apple’s iPhone and Palm Pre have already perfected – is allegedly coming later, in February 2010. Finally, Windows Mobile 7 will arrive in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Now, let’s compare this to some facts we know about the competition. It’s quite likely that Apple will have another iPhone before the end of 2010; since they usually release new iPhones at the beginning of summer, they’ll even have time to work out its kinks by the end of the year. Palm may launch another WebOS based phone, the Pixie (or Eos, if you will) by then. And we can expect 18 or more new Android-based handsets by the end of this year.
In addition to being late, Microsoft will have the disadvantage of not being uniform. Developers and manufacturers will have to decide whether they’ll work with Windows Mobile 6.5 or 7.0, and many of them might simply switch to another platform. If Microsoft wants to restore Windows Mobile’s former glory, they’ll have to deliver something really extraordinary with Windows Mobile 6.5’s touch interface, and Windows Mobile 7.0 in general. Whether they’re really capable of that remains to be seen.