Windows Mobile: What's coming when

Windows Mobile: What's coming when

Summary: While Windows Mobile officials won't talk about ship-date targets (hmmm... sounds like Windows client), some folks familiar with Microsoft's plans are talking. Here's the latest I'm hearing from my sources:


Much was made of this week's slip-up by Motorola's CEO that Windows Mobile 7 is due in 2010 (something that's actually been expected for a few months now).

I've been  curious about how Microsoft plans to try to catch up with its mobile-phone competitors given the slow, plodding pace at which it has been rolling out new versions of its Windows Mobile platform. After asking around, it sounds like the Softies are definitely aiming to speed up development.

While Windows Mobile officials won't talk about ship-date targets (hmmm... sounds like Windows client), some folks familiar with Microsoft's plans are talking. Here's the latest I'm hearing from my sources:

  • Windows Mobile 6.5 RTM (release to manufacturing): April 2009
  • First Windows Mobile 6.5 devices from cell phone makers: September 2009
  • Windows Mobile 7.0 release to testers: November 2009
  • First Windows Mobile 7.0 devices from cell phone makers: April 2010

When CNet first reported that Windows Mobile 7 had slipped, it sounded like the latter half of 2010 was the soonest the first Windows Mobile 7 devices would appear. My guess as to what's compressing the cycle: Fewer WinMobile phone carriers means closer working relationships with Microsoft. Potentially, it also could mean smaller, shorter beta tests and quicker release cycles.

Windows Mobile increasingly seems to be going the way of Windows client: Multiple, small milestone test releases involving just a few external partners. There doesn't seem to be an equivalent to the big public Windows client betas in the WinMobile world, but if you're only going to release the product to a handful of carriers, as Microsoft brass indicated was the plan earlier this year, maybe you don't need to....

I haven't heard anything recently about the feature set that Microsoft is planning to deliver as part of Windows Mobile 6.5 or 7.0. There have been a few tidbits about some of the gesture recognition and multi-touch capabilities in the works for future WinMobile platforms, but that's about all that's leaked.

Back in late 2007, Microsoft told some enthusiasts a bit about its plans for Win Mobile 7 and 8. Even back then, there were hints of the Skybox/Skyline/Skymarket services, if you read between the lines. While Microsoft doesn't seem to be tying those services to specific Windows Mobile releases, they do seem to be in lockstep with each other, from what my sources are saying. Skybox 2.0, for instance, seems to be timed to coincide with Windows Mobile 7, according to source reports.

What are you expecting -- and hoping -- to see Microsoft deliver as part of Windows Mobile 6.5 and 7.0?

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


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).

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


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • It is a race between WM and Android

    For me, the race is between Microsoft improving its WM software and Android improving its hardware selection. I really like the Android OS but the hardware choice is totally lacking. I really like WM hardware (the HTC Touch Diamond is the best smartphone hardware ever made) but WM isn't finger friendly all the way from top to bottom.

    Palm Pre is interesting but I'm wary of buying a smartphone from a vendor who controls both hardware and software. From what I've seen in the smartphone market, this leads to a product that is lacking in both the software and the hardware sides.
    • Some (hopefully true) Android rumors.

      We already know that Android has all the hooks to install on netbooks.
      [B]Asus plans to launch its Android phone during the first half of next year, [/B]

      Note, that story was last year.
      [B]but the official launch was rescheduled to March 2009 [/B]

      I would not be surprised if both an Asus Android phone and Asus netbook with Android show up in the next couple of months.

      • Sweet!

        It would be great if they made it easy to either tether the netbook to the phone (assuming the cell service provider allows it, big assumption), or they took a page out of Celio's handbook and allowed the netbook to act as a portable docking station (wired or via bluetooth) to the phone like I currently get with my Redfly / HTC Touch Diamond combination.

        I'm certainly cheering for Android. I want them to win in my heart but in the end, my head does have to prevail.
    • What, Race for distant second?

      WM does not stand a chance. Mobile OS X has already blown by the
      market penetration in less than 18 months VS Window CE's (Oh, I mean
      WM) how many years?
      • Except...

        WinMo sold about 20% more licences than Mobile OS X last year.

        Do try to keep up.

        Anyway, I changed my WinMo Omnia for a Nokia 5800. Whilst the Omnia is an excellent phone the hardware lacked a 3.5mm socket and a separate charging outlet. In addition, although Samsung did an excellent job with TouchWiz I just prefer Nokia's interface. I guess that's just a European thing. :)
        Sleeper Service
        • WinMo licenses

          WinMo sold more licenses but WinMo has been on the market for what, 10 to 15
          years now with dozens of vendors and products, whereas Apple has been in the
          market for only 18 months with one product (two if you count the iPod touch.)

          Even more importantly, WinMo only makes $8 to $15 per license so MS might have
          made $270 million for the entire year at the most, having sold 18 million licenses.

          Apple, however, sold 4.36 million phones for $10.17 billion revenue and $1.61
          billion profit in a SINGLE QUARTER! To put it another way, Apple is making $369.27
          per phone compared to MS making $8 to $12 per phone.

          By comparison, Nokia sold 113.1 million phones for $16.67 billion in revenue and
          only $751 million in profit and Sony Ericsson sold 24.2 million phones for $3.82
          billion in revenue and a $245 million LOSS for the year. So Nokia is making a
          whopping $6.64 per phone and Sony is losing around $10 per phone.

          MS only gets to make money off the sofware. Apple gets to make money off the
          software, the hardware, the Apple stores, their "Made-for-iPhone" licensing and
          their App store. Plus, the iPhone completely feeds the iTunesMusic store for music,
          TV shows and movie downloads (which doesn't count as far as their iPhone income.)
          and more people and developers are being sucked into the Mac universe.

          Nokia, MS, Sony, Moto, Palm et al, are the ones who are sucking Apple's exhaust
          trying to keep up.

          • And?

            The point is that WinMo still outsold Mobile OS X last year.

            I am perfectly aware Apple made more revenue but what's that got to do with market share? Selling a profitable product isn't the same as dominating a market.

            Sleeper Service
          • I believe the point is that all those iPhones sold are running OS X

            And I am not a Mac fanboi, I have a Treo 680 which serves my needs very well.
          • Indeed.

            And there were still considerably less of them sold than phones running WinMo.
            Sleeper Service
          • My point?

            is that MS has been in the Mobile space for years and is struggling to break
            out of it's modest market share or turn that unit into a significant revenue
            stream comparable to Office or Windows.

            But Apple has already caught up to WinMobile in market share in less than
            two years ( and is making
            4X the profit doing so.

            That's what should scare the crap out of everybody including MS and Google
            but especially Palm, Sony, Moto and Nokia.

            If you love WinMobile, or Palm or Android or Symbian great, and they all
            might be 20X better than iPhone, but Apple has figured out how to make a lot
            more money AND have as much market share as WinMobile and it's closing in
            on RIM and Symbian has been going downhill.
          • @SS So..?

            And you point is?
          • Marketshare vs Profit

            Yes, but MS is neither dominating or raking in big profits or trending
            upwards in market-share after being in the market for many years
            with multiple products, multiple carriers and trying to leverage their
            desktop monopoly.

            Apple's 18 month old iPhone baby is already a huge cash cow that
            Palm, Sony, Nokia and MS can only fantasize about.

          • Perhaps...

            ..but with sales down 40% over what is traditionally Apple's busiest quarter for how long?

            Anyway, the point was to hammer home to the fanboys that the iPhone will sell lots of units, carve a niche out for itself but hasn't a hope in hell of dominating the mobile phone market or, indeed, the smartphone market.
            Sleeper Service
          • Who needs to dominate? You MUST work for Microsoft!

            Domination is strickly a 'feel good attitude'. Making HUGE Profits is MUCH better. I think you have MS on the brain. You have not yet figured out that making MONEY is what it's about. Not attempting to drive everyone else out of business (which will NEVER happen. A new competitor can appear every day)!
            No More Microsoft Software Ever!
          • And dominating a market does not equate...

            to quality.

            Look at...
            Big Macs
            Many most-watched TV shows
            Windows & Internet Explorer

          • and iPods (nt)

          • LOL!

            Nice one, NZ.

            I hate that logic because it assumes that just because something is popular it's rubbish.

            Silly fanboys!
            Sleeper Service
          • Look, the village idiots are back.

            Trolling as usual? Fecking children.
          • When are you going to learn...

            ...that in business AND economics market share MEANS NOTHING unless
            it's tied with revenue!!! Christ! More revenue from less seats sold is a
            winner in any accountants book.
          • Why dominate a market when you can make HUGE profits?

            No need here. This is why Microsoft will fail. Their head is in the wrong space. Also explains why not a single MS investor/shareholder has made a CENT since 1999!
            No More Microsoft Software Ever!