Microsoft confirms multi-touch, designates WM7 to high-end, while keeping WM 6.5 for mass market
If you into Windows Mobile devices, you’ve probably already seen the video walkthrough of the final build of Windows Mobile OS, posted by Inquirer.
While the new build, icons, UI tweaks and services like MyPhone and QR tags look nice, you may have missed the important bit of news that Microsoft rep let slip about future Microsoft strategy, some WM7 features, and the place of Windows Mobile 6.5 after Windows Mobile 7 comes out.
Starting at about 6:35 min into the video and going until about 8th minute, the discussion turns to the lack of multi-touch availability in WM 6.5, and then proceeds to discuss Microsoft future mobile strategy:
Here are the key points of that discussion and some of my thoughts what it all could mean:
1. “There’s no multi-touch on WM 6.5, because there are 155 different Windows Mobile phones on the market, and each one has a different idea. “
Now, this sounds like a pretty strange statement, since there surely can not be 155 different WM 6.5 phones out there. Microsoft rep is probably talking about WM 6.1, or even 6.0 devices, and, probably, confirms how Microsoft is looking at WM 6.5. As an incremental upgrade/patch, to carry through with it’s partners until the genuine new version of OS (WM 7) is ready. Sort of mobile version of what Windows 3.11 was to Windows 3.1, until Windows 95 came out.
2. “… moving forward we will work closely with [OEM partners] for hardware specifications, etc; so the software we put in can exploit the hardware, introduce multi-touch and the whole new range of experiences exploiting multitasking capabilities of Windows…. Any of the experiences you see on some of our competitor devices today will be knocked in the different realm [Windows Mobile 7].
This statement from Microsoft rep confirms the rumors from a while ago, about pretty demanding hardware specs that Microsoft is planning for the devices running Windows Mobile 7 OS. And, also, quite openly promises to bring the best features from iPhone and Android devices to Windows phones.
3. [Windows Mobile] 6.5 will coexist with 7 when it comes out. [WM] 6.5 will be a breadth play, lower cost device. [Windows Mobile] 7 will be, you know, a premium hardware experience exploiting all the stuff out. As Moore’s law comes in and the hardware comes down, [with] the next version – 8, 9 and 10 – [WM] 7 will become the breadth market, ‘cause the hardware costs will come down, and then you bring out new experiences in future versions…
Now, this one is a really interesting news tidbit.
It looks like from now on Microsoft plans to have two fully supported versions of Windows Mobile OS on the market at the same time. One version for cheap, lower specc’ed mass market devices (Windows Mobile 6.5 for now), and another one for the high end, top of the line devices, with the best software features current hardware can support. As the hardware becomes cheaper and new capabilities are introduced, the newest OS moves down the value chain towards mass market devices, and the new OS is developed to exploit the newest top of the line capabilities at the time.
Sounds like a pretty interesting and smart move on Microsoft part, and pretty similar to what other established mobile OS – Symbian, with at least 2 actively supported versions of OS at any one time – is doing too. Nokia, with the planned introduction of Linux/Maemo based devices, in addition to it’s Symbian smartphones, is moving in the similar direction too.