Microsoft isn't offering up any dates or final product names, but it is breaking with Windows Mobile tradition and is talking about future features.
It's not hard to see why Microsoft's Windows Mobile team is uncharacteristically willing to share its roadmap. The Apple iPhone has all the buzz and, according to at least one market researcher, more of the the Web-browsing market share than Windows Mobile does.
Here's what Microsoft has shown/told a select handful of bloggers, journalists and other sundry "influentials."
Coming early next year is Windows Mobile 6.1, a minor update to the current Windows Mobile platform that includes a number of interface enhancements.
Next on the horizon is Windows Mobile 7, which will add zooming, scaling and a new suite of Win Mobile apps, including Internet Explorer, email, SMS and photo/music management, according to Gizmodo's account. Gizmodo says "there's talk about doing some sort of collaboration with the Zune team, but that's still up in the air."
(I've been hearing talk that Microsoft is working on a suite of Live services that will work across Windows Mobile, Xbox 360, Zune and possibly Microsoft TV. Perhaps this will debut in the WIndows 7 timeframe, whatever that is.)
After Windows Mobile 7 is ... tada ... Windows Mobile 8. Gizmodo's synopsis:
"This (Windows Mobile 8) is the version you've been waiting for, implementing a completely redesigned user interface, 'revolutionary' features like global search, and new concepts such as automation and connections within the phone, ideas borrowed from other smartphone operating systems. This means that you'll be able to go from viewing a person's address info in his contact card to seeing where he lives in map view in one click. There will be much more of this intuitive flow, and far less digging through menus."
Microsoft mission with the next few releases of Windows Mobile is to take a product that the company built to satisfy business/enterprise users and make it more palatable to consumers. Meanwhile, Apple is looking to do the inverse with the iPhone: Take a consumer platform and make it appealing to the business community by integrating more tightly the iPhone with Exchange Server, etc.
What's your take? Will Windows Mobile phones catch up to iPhones on the ease-of-use and/or coolness meters any time soon?