Microsoft is slowly but surely continuing to try to wean users from Windows Mobile 6.x phones, even though they are outselling Windows Phone 7 devices (according to at least one market researcher).
The latest Microsoft move in this direction is the discontinuation of the My Phone service and Windows Marketplace for Mobile Web site for those customers.
On June 8, the Microsoft Windows Phone team sent mail to Windows Mobile 6.x users notifying them of plans to cut these two offerings. The Marketplace for Mobile web site will no longer be available after July 15, even though the service will still be available on phones. The My Phone backup service will be phased out between August 7 through October 6, according to Microsoft officials. Microsoft is moving some of Windows Mobile 6.x users' content stored on MyPhone -- but not videos, music, documents and favorites -- to its free Windows Live SkyDrive online storage service.
Here's the full text of the email sent to customers:
June 8, 2011
Dear Windows Mobile 6.x customer:
Microsoft will be discontinuing the My Phone service for Windows Mobile 6.x. We will also be discontinuing the Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site. Because you may be affected, please review the details below:
Windows Marketplace for Mobile Web Site To Be Discontinued
The Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site at http://marketplace.windowsphone.com will no longer be available starting on July 15, 2011. After July 15, 2011, you will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications for Windows Mobile 6.x phones via the Windows Marketplace for Mobile web site.
The Windows Marketplace for Mobile service will continue to be available on your phone, however. You will continue to be able to browse, buy and download applications for Windows Mobile 6.x on your phone.
My Phone To Be Discontinued
On August 7, 2011, the My Phone service will stop saving content from phones to the My Phone service. If you rely on the My Phone service to back-up the content on your Windows Mobile 6.x phone, you will be affected.
Starting on August 7, 2011, Microsoft will begin moving your My Phone content to Windows Live SkyDrive. SkyDrive is Microsoft's free online storage service that helps you access and share your files such as photos and Microsoft Office documents. Contacts, calendar entries, text messages and photos will be moved to SkyDrive for you. Once moved, you will be able to access this content by logging into SkyDrive using the Windows Live ID that you used to register for the My Phone service.
Other content types, including videos, music, documents and favorites will not be moved from My Phone to SkyDrive for you. If you want this content, you must save it from the My Phone service to your local PC.
On October 6, 2011, the My Phone web site at http://www.microsoft.com/myphone will no longer be available. On this date, you will no longer be able to log in to the My Phone service to access your content stored to the My Phone service. Microsoft will continue to store your My Phone content for one (1) year. Physical copies of your content can be shipped to you upon request until October 5, 2012.
To learn more about the My Phone service shut-down, including information about your content moving to Windows Live SkyDrive and how to save other content to your local PC, please visit this web site:
Microsoft is committed to making this transition easy. In the meantime, we want to sincerely thank you for your use of Windows Mobile 6.x.
-The Windows Phone Team
Last year, Microsoft rolled out the Windows Phone Live (now known as Windows Live for Mobile) site for Windows Phones and positioned it as the successor to the My Phone offering. Microsoft's original codename for its My Phone service was Skybox. Skybox was based on the Mobicomp synchronization technologies that the Redmondians acquired when they purchased the Portuguese services company Mobicomp in the summer of 2008.
Microsoft officials have said that Windows Mobile 6.5.3 is the last release of the Windows Mobile operating system line. Microsoft is continuing to offer Windows Embedded Handheld as a ruggedized phone/device operating system, in addition to the Windows Phone operating system on its new generation of Windows Phones.
According to recent market data from Gartner, Windows Mobile 6.x phones sales outpaced Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 sales in the first calendar quarter of 2011.
Update: Microsoft has said Windows Mobile 6.x support for customers ends January 8, 2013. End of distribution date (for Microsoft partners) is October 31, 2013 for smartphones using the WM 6.x operating system, and April 30, 2017 for embedded handheld devices using the WM 6.x core.