Ballmer: Zune services coming to 'next release' of Windows Mobile

Summary:In response to Engadget's questions on when the Zune music and video services will come to Windows Mobile, CEO Steve Ballmer said Zune services would definitely be available in conjunction with the next Windows Mobile release. But which release did he mean?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer really made the rounds on October 22 to help kick off Windows 7. One stop he made was the Engadget Show, which was taped live in Times Square.

Ballmer was a lot more direct than Microsoft Entertainment and Device Division President Robbie Bach, when it comes to answering questions about Microsoft's mobile and device strategies. (Not a high bar, given Bach's reticence to even acknowledge the existence of anything codenamed "Pink.") Ballmer did offer a few tidbits during the show yesterday that I found interesting, though still somewhat cryptic.

In response to Engadget's questions on when the Zune music and video services will come to Windows Mobile, Ballmer said Zune services would definitely be available in conjunction with the next Windows Mobile release.

But as the folks over at the MobileTechWorld blog note, that answer is still somewhat murky. Microsoft is strongly believed to be readying a 6.5.x or 6.7 release of Windows Mobile, which many are expecting the company to release on or around the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2010. That release supposedly enables Windows Mobile to work on capacitive touch-screen phones. Microsoft officials continue to refuse to say if and when that release will be coming.

Engadget also asked Ballmer about the photos of the Pink phones (codenamed Turtle and Pure) that were leaked on Gizmodo last month. Are either of these the rumored Microsoft-branded phones that many of us heard are -- or at least "were" -- in the works?

"We are not shipping, pricing  or selling phones. As of today, that's not our plan," Ballmer told Engadget's Josh Topolsky yesterday.

This is a more definitive statement than Bach or anyone else at Microsoft has made about the rumored Pink phones. (As I've noted previously, Microsoft officials have been able to wriggle out of repeated questions about whether Microsoft is planning to make its own phone because Microsoft doesn't actually "make" any hardware. Other vendors make it for the Redmondians.

With Pink, most recent rumors seemed to indicate that Sharp was the company making the Pink phones that Microsoft and Sharp were considering they'd cobrand. Ballmer's new statement still leaves a lot of wriggle room, but it also leads me to believe there's a good chance that Microsoft's phone partners may have complained so vociferously about Microsoft being involved in branding/distributing its own phones that Pink may be back to nothing more than a bunch of premium services for Windows Mobile phones. (That's what I initially heard Pink was, before I got more tips indicating Pink also was the codename for a Microsoft-branded phone, as well.)

What's your take? Has Microsoft scrapped plans to cobrand a phone aimed at teens and 20-somethings? And when will Zune come to the Windows Mobile platform -- in early 2010 with an interim release or not until Windows Mobile 7?

Topics: Mobile OS, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Telcos, Wi-Fi, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.