The Mobile World Congress (MWC) show kicks off on February 15 in Barcelona, and Microsoft will be there, (hopefully) showing off various new mobile wares and sharing more details on its evolving mobile strategy.
In the months years leading up to this event, there've been lots of false starts, twists and turns on Microsoft's mobile roadmap. While I am not one of the chosen who've been prebriefed by Microsoft about what it's doing and not doing next week, I've been getting lots of tips.
While CEO Steve Ballmer -- who is headlining Microsoft's mobile unveiling on Monday -- is unlikely to use many, if any, of the myriad codenames that the company has been using internally as it has been churning out the next generation of mobile wares, those of us following along at home have been doing so.
Download: Latest Codename Tracker
In that spirit, here's a quick guide to Microsoft's mobile offerings, organized by codename, designed to help demystify what Microsoft demos and detailsnext week:
Cashmere: The latest version of Windows CE (the underlying OS upon which Windows Mobile, Zune and other third-party-developed products is built). This may be the foundation for Windows Mobile 7. If it's not, perhaps Chelan, the next release of Windows CE (which, last I heard, still had not been released to manufacturing), might be -- but I'm thinking Cashmere is more likely, given the typical lag times between when Microsoft rolls out a new version of CE and when it uses it as the base for a new Windows Mobile version.
Dorado: The Zune software for the PC. Microsoft has used the Dorado codename since it introduced the ZuneHDs last year to refer to this platform. But with the next generation of mobile devices, Dorado will get more capabilities, enabling it to become a synchronization/marketplace site for ZuneHD, Windows Mobile 7 phones and Pink devices, tipsters say.
Metro: The user interface for Windows Mobile 7 phones. It will look and feel a lot like the ZuneHD UI, tipsters say.
Pink: The uber-codename for the successors to the Sidekick, aimed at the teen/twenty-something market. Pink also has been used to refer to the premium consumer-focused mobile services for these and other devices.
Pure: One of the Pink phones, possibly manufactured by Sharp. Gizmodo ran an alleged prototype photos from their sources of Pure last fall.
Rouge: This was supposed to be the business/enterprise version of Pink. I recently heard Microsoft has canned the idea of doing Rouge services or phones. (Anyone have any more info on that?)
Skybox: The Microsoft "MyPhone" service, the first version of which Microsoft announced a year ago at MWC. I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft announce some new, premium additions to its mobile backup and restore offering at next week's event.
Turtle: Another of the Pink phones, possibly manufactured by Sharp, pictured in a leaked photo on Gizmodo late last year.
ZunePhone: Windows Mobile 7 phones running/accessing Zune music, video, synchronization and other services.
Latest word I'm getting is Microsoft is likely to talk about its Windows Mobile 7 strategy and vision and show off the more consumer-friendly user interface at MWC. Ballmer also will show off some new Windows Mobile 6.5 and 6.5.3 phones (yawn) at the event and probably demo and discuss Silverlight streaming on Windows Mobile 7 (and maybe the iPhone?). Microsoft execs will not talk about its Windows Mobile 7 development strategy at MWC; that's a topic for Mix 10 in mid-March.
It's unclear the extent to which Microsoft will talk about/show the Pink phones at MWC. While some Microsoft watchers have said they expect the Pink phones could make their debut in Barcelona, I've also heard Microsoft may not make MWC the venue for the Pink roll-out, and will instead hold a separate event, possibly in April, as its Pink showcase. In part, Microsoft may end up separating these two rollouts so as not to anger its phone partners, given that the Pink phones may be Microsoft-branded (in spite of Microsoft execs' repeated claims that Microsoft won't make its own phone).
There are only a few more days to wait for all (or at least some) to be revealed... If WM7/Pink fail to impress, all Microsoft's talk of how it plans to fix its mobile strategy will be falling on deaf ears.