Five Windows Mobile 7 questions and five speculative answers

Five Windows Mobile 7 questions and five speculative answers

Summary: I've decided to go back and re-examine not just the new Windows Mobile 7 claims, but also some older links for clues. Here are my most pressing questions regarding Windows Mobile 7 at this point -- and the way I'm leaning on these various issues.

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Readers are sending me URLs for so many Windows Mobile 7 rumors that my head is reeling.  (Keep 'em coming!)

Microsoft isn't commenting, and many of the "usual" mobile analysts we bloggers/journalists would ask are under non-disclosure agreements because they attended an early Windows Mobile briefing at Microsoft headquarters last November... So the rest of us are left speculating and wondering and guessing...

I've decided to go back and re-examine not just the new claims, but also some older links for clues. Here's are my five most pressing questions regarding Windows Mobile 7 at this point -- and the way I'm leaning on these various issues (again, with no information from Microsoft). 1. What is the underlying core of Windows Mobile 7? Previous releases of Windows Mobile have built on top of Microsoft's embedded Windows CE operating system. I've seen rumors claiming Windows Mobile 7 won't be based on CE (it instead will be built on top of Silverlight and .Net, one claimed). I've also seen reports claiming it will be built on top of Windows CE 6.0 R3 -- the latest version of Windows Embedded Compact that was released to manufacturing in September 2009. (CE 6.0 R3 was codenamed "Cashmere.") If Windows Mobile 7 is based on Cashmere, that's significant and interesting because the Cashmere release includes support for IE7 and Silverlight, among other features.

While there has been talk that Microsoft is moving toward basing Windows and Windows Mobile on the same core operating system base, I'm guessing Windows Mobile 7 is still based on some version of CE, possibly CE 6.0 R3.

2. Are there two versions of Windows Mobile 7, a "business" version and a "consumer/entertainment" version? I have zero insider information about this, but I can't help but wonder whether the business and consumer "versions" are simply different sets of specs with which Windows Phone makers are being asked to comply. I ran a spec list for "Windows Mobile 7 Chassis 1" last year. At the time, I was told this was the set of specs for Pink phones. But maybe that list was one of two sets of chassis specs (either the business or consumer set)? Or maybe what the "two versions" rumor actually reflects is there will be more Windows Mobile 6.X phones coming from various vendors with all the usual vendor customization, and another set of Windows Mobile 7 phones which limit those customizations?

Because Microsoft keeps banging the convergence drum, claiming users don't want a business phone and a consumer phone, but instead a single phone that can be used for both kinds of tasks, I'm thinking there is only one Windows Mobile 7 but at least two sets of chassis specs.

3. Will Windows Mobile 7 be backward-compatible with Windows Mobile 6.x? Will many folks, other than those with custom Windows Mobile apps and developers who took a chance and backed the Windows Mobile 6.x platform, really care? More on that in my earlier post on Microsoft's compatibility conundrum today.

4. Is there a "Zune phone," after all -- in spite of repeated Microsoft claims to the contrary? I'm betting no on this one. Microsoft officials did split the Zune team up a year ago, sending the hardware side of the Zune unit to Windows Mobile and the software side to the IPTV/MediaRoom side of the house. The Zune HD was said by some to be a showcase of some of the user-interface, video marketplace, music subscription/playback and other elements which would show up, at some point, on Windows Phones. Zune music and video are probably among the premium mobile services that the Danger/Pink team has been developing. But does that mean Windows Mobile 7 phones + Zune services = Zune phones? Not exactly.

5. So what the heck is Pink? I've been wavering as to whether Microsoft is going to deliver a Pink phone. The reason for my uncertainty? First I heard Pink was just a set of premium mobile services. Then I heard from my sources that Pink was the services plus a Microsoft-branded phone. Then Microsoft officials began to criticize Google for competing with its partners by releasing a Google phone. Did that mean Microsoft had decided to kill the phone component of Pink? I thought so... but then Pink phone rumors resurfaced, the latest of which are claiming Pink phones could debut this calendar quarter.

I'm starting to think Pink phones may be nothing more than Windows Mobile 6.x-based phones built by a Microsoft partner (or two) to spec. They may be the first Windows Phones to offer the Pink premium mobile services. But otherwise, it's looking more and more like they won't end up carrying a Microsoft logo.

What other Windows Mobile 7 questions -- beyond the obvious pricing, timing and availability ones -- are you most interested in having answered?

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

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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16 comments
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  • It'd be great if based on .Net and SilverLight

    It makes developing for WM7 a lot easier to take on for us regular .Net developers.
    LBiege
  • Some journalists are in Microsoft's pocket

    I'd have to question the actions of some journalists (not Mary-Jo), who seem to have compromised themselves by signing a non-disclosure agreement with Microsoft.

    Signing a non-disclosure agreement is no use for journalism, as the participants are then not allowed to tell us what they saw, whether it be good or bad. The public doesn't get any more information out of this.

    But then those journalists must be quiet about Windows Mobile 7. They can't speculate, as they would risk giving away secrets, and breaking the NDA.

    I think the practice stinks. As does Microsoft's other habit of handing out Zunes, Windows Phones, and gifts of other Microsoft products to journalists.
    Vbitrate
  • who cares

    winmo7 is vaporware and i bet it will never see the light of
    day. mary jo is one of the last microsoft enthusiasts standing
    (along with sleeper service and moron zealot) and is
    desperately trying to do redmond's pr work. meanwhile apple
    will reinvent the mobile computer and will dominate
    smartphones and smartbooks for the next decade and
    counting.
    bannedfromzdnetagain
    • troll :D

      Shouldn't you be at school and learn some grammar and maths?
      drphysx
      • mr. marketshare

        i missed you.

        can't wait for winmo's q4 numbers.
        bannedfromzdnetagain
      • and sorry

        for not mentioning you along with sleeper service and moron zealot as
        one of the last microsoft idiots standing. i hereby make good for it.
        bannedfromzdnetagain
  • I'm quite excited

    With the exception of the HTC HD2, all smartphones released after I got my HTC Touch Diamond simply haven't offered enough bang for buck to make me want to switch. Android is close but doesn't quiet have the Exchange support I need. RIM's touch screen smartphones haven't been knocking anyone's socks off lately so I hesitate to get one of those. Nokia doesn't seem to care about the Canadian market.

    WM7 seems to be the only bright light in what is otherwise a dull marketplace. :(
    NonZealot
    • bright light

      so you rather wait till 2011 for some vaporware that redmond has
      already delayed for more than two years than to get out and get yourself
      a real smartphone now (hint: starts with an i). jeezz! how delusional
      microsoft fanboys are. it isn't funny anymore, only sad.
      bannedfromzdnetagain
      • I have a real smartphone right now

        [i]get yourself a real smartphone now[/i]

        My smartphone came with access to 100,000s of apps, copy and paste, the first mobile browser to score 100 on the ACID3 test, multi-tasking, and is actually mobile (one of the only negatives to the HD2 which is a large device).

        [i]so you rather wait till 2011 for some vaporware[/i]

        Well, it isn't like I'm using nothing in the time being, owning one of the best smartphones in existence today: HTC Touch Diamond, descendent of the HTC Touch, the [b]first[/b] full screen, touch screen smartphone and the one everyone else is still trying to copy. So yes, I look out at the sea of HTC Touch clones and I'd rather wait to see if WM7 is vaporware than get stuck with a lousy HTC Touch wannabe.
        NonZealot
        • really?

          "My smartphone came with access to 100,000s of apps, copy and paste, the first mobile browser to score 100 on the ACID3 test, multi-tasking, and is actually mobile."

          I'll give you 2 out of 5.

          In 2008 Microsoft said WinMo had 18,000 apps. I doubt that there are significantly more than that now...

          Your phone didn't come with the first mobile browser to score 100 on the ACID3 test. (HTC didn't stike a deal with Opera until 2008.)

          "Actually mobile" -- what does that even mean? Too big? Tell that to the millions who have no problems using their phones on the go, even if they're bigger than the Touch Diamond.

          I'll give you copy/paste and even multi-tasking.
          rynning
  • Base system = MinWin

    ...or some derivative.
    - hence the compatibility issue
    - sharing "orion" code with W7 desktop
    - silverlight can run on it and not the 6.x line (it uses a modified windows version)

    pq
    pq.
    • That's my hope/guess too.

      WinCE was created for a very small, very power-frugal, very-low-performance world. It no longer makes sense to continue to shackle Windows Mobile developers with the inadequacies of WinCE.

      I sincerely hope that WinMo7 will be just that - the Windows Kernel core + the subsystems, services, drivers and app infrastructure necessary to allow Silverlight, Win32 and .NET apps to run on todays and tomorrows handsets & devices.
      de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
  • Here's five answers.

    1. What is the underlying core of Windows Mobile 7?

    It's HIGHLY unlikely that it'll be a unified WinXP/Vista/7 embedded. I've not seen an ARM version of that anywhere (although it wouldn't be that hard to do). WinCE 6 based - almost certainly if for no other reason, the ability to upgrade the OS independently of the driver rigging, allowing MSFT to finally sell OS upgrade to end users.

    Suggesting that it could be ".Net and Silverlight" is a little odd - it could be done (.Net Micro, for example), but you'd have to almost rebuild an OS around it anyway - there's little benefit. The same thing can be done by simply putting a replacement shell that blocks launching of anything other than a .Net app.

    2. Are there two versions of Windows Mobile 7, a ?business? version and a ?consumer/entertainment? version?

    If not, then MSFT is going to lose in both markets. These two markets have fundamentally different requirements (which is why RIM is still beating the iPhone). They can serve both with the same core system - but using the trick I mention in (1) you can block any non-.Net app from running and more, filter against apps using System.Windows.Forms - then replace with a Touch UI system (System.Touch.Forms for example). In the enterprise version, you can go back to the normal shell and end users can run both... the consumer version expressly blocks any app that would dump you into 'techy WM6 land'.

    3. Will Windows Mobile 7 be backward-compatible with Windows Mobile 6.x?

    Enterprise version - yes.
    Consumer version - no.

    4. Is there a ?Zune phone,? after all ? in spite of repeated Microsoft claims to the contrary?

    This IS the Zune Phone. It's just not made by Microsoft. Rumours are that WM7 borrows heavily from the Zune's UI design. Zune + .Net shell (the Zune is basically WM5 with a locked shell - all the apps are written in .Net using XNA) + controlled .Net apps = WM7. Stick it on a controlled high end platform (see your own leaked min specs) and voila - Zune Phone.

    5. So what the heck is Pink?

    Pink is app store + subscriber services. That's the part Apple *doesn't* have and seems very wary of getting into. It works beautifully for the Zune pass. Now, extend it out to other services like mapping and real time navigation...

    Picture AppStore + OnStar only for books, movies, songs, etc.
    TheWerewolf
  • RE: Five Windows Mobile 7 questions and five speculative answers

    I think it should be something that will compete the android based operating system.The other thing is the fact that people have it (in higher numbers than Android), are here discussing it, I dont know, just going out on a limb here.So leta see how much will it compete the android.
    sotthomas
  • answers

    Underlying core: WinCE. Silverlight Mobile and XNA Mobile will ship for ISVs. Graphics engine, known as Splash and borrowed from the Zune client team, is new to WM.

    SKUs: still under consideration.

    Back-compat: no.

    Zune phone: no.

    Pink: parallel project created during the first revision of WM7. Due to announce within the next 3 months. Multiple feature overlap with the current revision of WM7.
    86753092010
  • RE: Five Windows Mobile 7 questions and five speculative answers

    t's HIGHLY unlikely that it'll be a unified WinXP/Vista/7 embedded. I've not seen an ARM version of that anywhere (although it wouldn't be that hard to do). WinCE 6 based - almost certainly if for no other reason, the ability to upgrade the OS independently of the driver rigging, allowing MSFT to finally sell OS upgrade to end users.<a href="http://www.littlecherry.net.cn/wordpress/?p=92"> corset </a>
    littlecherry