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Windows Mobile 6.5: How touchy will it be?

Microsoft published this week new touch gesture documentation for Windows Mobile 6.5. Microsoft evangelist Marcus Perryman supplemented the docs with Part 1 of planned two-part blog post outlining Windows Mobile 6.5's support for touch.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

While I've heard a couple of folks refer to 6.5 as the "Windows ME" (Millennium Edition) of mobile OSes (ouch), Microsoft is continuing to beat the 6.5 drum in anticipation of the fall arrival of Windows Mobile 6.5 phones.

At next week's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) , Microsoft has a number of Windows Mobile 6.5 sessions on tap and is planning to show off some upcoming 6.5 phones during a keynote address on July 13, according to the WPC Web site.

Microsoft published this week new touch gesture documentation for Windows Mobile 6.5. Microsoft evangelist Marcus Perryman supplemented the docs with Part 1 of planned two-part blog post outlining Windows Mobile 6.5's support for touch.

Perryman noted in his late June posting that Windows Mobile has supported touch since its first release. But 6.5 adds new gesture support, tailored primarily for phones with resistive screens that wasn't available in previous Windows Mobile versions. From his post:

"Windows Mobile 6.5 has primarily been designed for resistive screens because some input areas still rely on small controls and require a high level of input accuracy that can’t be easily achieved with a finger and require a stylus; however some device manufacturers are considering options to ship capacitive screens.

"Looking forward the mobile team is considering how to address these issues and support many more screen types including capacitive."

(Resistive screens are cheaper but better suited to interaction via a stylus than a finger. Capacitive screens are what Apple's iPhone and the Android G1 use.)

There are five classes of gestures that will be supported in Windows Mobile 6.5, according to Perryman: select, double-select, hold, pan and scroll. In his post, he details how these gestures are supported at the programming-interface level.

Perryman doesn't mention Windows Mobile 7, which a number of sources are saying will be released to manufacturing this fall and available on new phones in the first part of 2010. But that's supposedly when Windows Mobile finally gets multi-touch and additional gesturing support.

There's no earth-shattering news in Perryman's post, but it's worth a read if you are trying to keep up with Microsoft's morphing mobile wares.

Meanwhile, speaking of what's on Microsoft's mobile plate, anyone know what happened to Skyline, Microsoft's small-business-focused e-mail service that was being developed alongside SkyMarket (Windows Marketplace for Mobile) and Skybox (My Phone)?

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