Nathan Weinberg, over on his InsideMicrosoft blog, has posted some interesting information from an alleged internal Microsoft document on future user interface directions for the Windows Mobile platform.
(From what Weinberg has posted, the source of this information sure looks real. I asked Microsoft for official comment on its authenticity, and was told by a spokesperson that the company does not comment on "rumors." All I'll say is if these are rumors, they sure seem to be awfully detailed and well-documented....)
According to the document upon which the new information on Windows Mobile touch/gesture-recognition is based -- which Weinberg says dates back to summer 2007 -- Microsoft will be incorporating touch and gesture recognition into its Windows Mobile 7 platform.
"Windows Mobile 7 will use touch gestures, similar to how the iPhone does. You will be able to flick through lists, pan, swipe sideway, draw on the screen. A lot of emphasis has been put on making navigation easier and doing away with scrollbars, including a new scroll handle that allows for multiple ways of finding items extremely fast.
"Windows Mobile 7 will use motion gestures, something the iPhone does not. It will not use an intricate and complicated series of gyroscopes and accelerometers. Instead, it will use the camera on the phone to detect motions and create appropriate actions. You will be able to shake, twist and otherwise manipulate the phone and get things done. The phone will be able to perform actions when placed face down on a surface, and it will know when it is in your pocket or bag."
(We've seen some prototype demos of how the Microsoft Surface will recognize and interact with cell phones. It looks like that functionality is potentially closer to delivery than one might expect.)
As with all Microsoft futures, it's hard to know for sure what is set on a to-do list vs. what's little more than a twinkle in a product team's (or Microsoft Research's) eye. While Microsoft needs to get touch into the next major version of Windows Mobile if it has any hope at all of keeping pace with Apple's iPhone, how much of what Weinberg has posted will make it into the final Windows Mobile 7 release? How much will be pushed into Windows Mobile 8?
There has been a bit of information circulating on what kinds of features Microsoft will deliver in Windows Mobile 7 and 8, but nothing firm on planned timing for these releases or anything (so far) about planned touch/gesture recognition in these versions. (Windows Mobile 6.1, or whatever the next minor point release of Windows Mobile ends up being called, is expected to ship to handset providers in the first part of this year.)
What's your take? How much of this new input technology will debut in Windows Mobile 7? And how much of it, if any, will also show up in Windows 7?
(Windows Mobile 7 image credit: Inside Microsoft blog)