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Windows Mobile 6.5 user interface  (Source: Engadget)

Microsoft My Phone  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft unveils two key features of Windows Mobile 6.5 at MWC

When many consumers think about the most slick and easy to use operating systems for smartphones, Windows Mobile is not often among the top choices. The clear leader in UI-friendliness in the OS market for smartphones is Apple.

Microsoft is looking to remove the notion held by many that Windows Mobile is a clunky and non-intuitive operating system for smartphones with the reveal of some Windows Mobile 6.5 features. The new version of Windows Mobile was shown today at Mobile World Congress 2009 running on handsets from HTC, LG, and Orange.

Microsoft promises that version 6.5 will feature an improved user interface and a much friendlier user experience. The new devices will be called Windows phones and will feature a pair of new services called My Phone and Windows Marketplace for Mobile.

My Phone is a service that synchronizes text messages, photos, video, contacts, and more to the web. Windows Marketplace is a place for developers to offer direct-to-phone mobile applications that can be accessed from the phone and from the web.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement, "Windows phones bring together the best of the Web, the PC and the phone so you can connect instantly to the experiences you care about, no matter where you are. We’re working with partners across the industry to deliver a new generation of Windows® phones that break down the barriers between people, information and applications and provide great end-to-end experiences that span your entire life, at work and at home."

The new OS offers a dashboard that allows users to stay aware of important information like new emails, texts, missed calls, and calendar appointments. The OS offers an improved touch interface designed to be navigated with a finger rather than a stylus.

The My Phone web service is password protected and allows users to access, manage, and backup content from their mobile phones allowing users to easily access data and restore it to a device in the event of an upgrade or replacement. The My Phone service is currently limited to an invitation only beta. Handsets shown at MWC 2009 running Windows Mobile 6.5 include the LG GM7300 and the HTC Touch Diamond 2 and Touch Pro 2.

Windows Mobile 7 was reportedly delayed until the second half of this year, but will likely be even further out now that Windows Mobile 6.5 is just now debuting.

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Better UI?
By MikeMurphy on 2/16/2009 11:34:26 AM , Rating: 5
I have been using WM6 for a few years now and I am shocked that a company the size of Microsoft is only able to come up with a better GUI now, in 2009. Even now, I am skeptical if it will be an improvement.

RE: Better UI?
By peritusONE on 2/16/2009 12:06:31 PM , Rating: 2
Well, to be fair, the use for new touch-friendly mobile UI's have only started to become necessary in the past year and a half since the iPhone launch. Once the iPhone showed that mobile touch devices would sell like hotcakes, everyone else has just been getting on the bandwagon within the past 6-12 months.

RE: Better UI?
By mondo1234 on 2/16/2009 3:08:42 PM , Rating: 3
I would buy that if there weren't companies like Google that came out with solid GUIs and beat MS to market.

RE: Better UI?
By Suntan on 2/16/2009 3:40:26 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention I was using a touch based Pocket PC (HP5555) for work about 4+ years ago.

Touchscreens on mobile devices are not new.


RE: Better UI?
By Darkskypoet on 2/16/2009 7:27:34 PM , Rating: 2
Ditto with my Treo 650... Why Palm, why did you have to leave me with crap choices to upgrade too... The Pre should've been out a year ago... or Even more... Sigh. Now I have an iPhone in the interim... Yuck.

(Psst: Palm? Listening... Deals still on. No Key chain required, 1 Pre = iPhone through the window of a Mac store.)

RE: Better UI?
By taber on 2/16/2009 10:00:03 PM , Rating: 2
WM just isn't impressive, Microsoft doesn't seem committed/competitive to the mobile market anymore. I'm excited about Windows 7, but not this.

I'm looking forward to the Pre too, everything I read about it looks good. I don't want an iphone, but refuse to get an inferior phone either. The G1 would work, but T-mobile has bad service here, so I plan on switching to Sprint/Palm Pre come May when my 2 years with At&t are up (Unless they somehow produce an Android phone by then, unlikely).

RE: Better UI?
By melgross on 2/16/2009 4:06:32 PM , Rating: 4
This goes to show why MS survives. You make the excuse that until someone else comes up with a good idea, that it's ok for MS to not do it.

So then MS just has to put out poor products until someone else comes out with a good one, and then they can just copy that, and it's ok?

Why is that?

MS has been in the mobile phone business as long as anyone. They have a very large R&D department that is supposed to be doing work on advanced technologies. Considering that, why are they given slack for never coming out with anything new and worthy until after it's done somewhere else?

Why can't MS take a plunge with something new and see if it works? If they can afford to lose billions every year on their entertainment division, and their internet initiatives, why can't they take a chance here as well?

Can it be that they really waste all that money on R&D, and that management really has no ideas at all?

It surely seems like it.

RE: Better UI?
By InternetGeek on 2/16/2009 4:51:39 PM , Rating: 3
I think its a technology issue. Their UI/UX R&D is working on the Surface, and the products of it are just trickling down to other stuff such as WPF, Silverlight and what not. The way they're working (IMO) is to first build the foundation, and then try it out all across their product lines. It at least makes the path a bit less tourtous, and all R&D is always paid for (if it makes sense).

Check in Channel9 what's in store for Office 14 (under the PDC section) for an example.

RE: Better UI?
By JoshuaBuss on 2/16/2009 6:31:00 PM , Rating: 5
Considering the wealth of customization options on WinMo phones, it's pretty easy to argue that they've been the market leader for a long time now in the 'advanced technology' department.

their strength has never been in UI design.. it's been in features. consider the simple fact that people have been able to turn their wifi or bluetooth enabled WinMo phones with data plans into access points for other computers for over 4 years now a testament to the advanced abilities offered by a WinMo phone that has YET to be challenged effectively by a competitor.

sure, most people don't care about these kinds of advanced uses, but the WinMo mob is an angry, serious one :)

RE: Better UI?
By omnicronx on 2/17/2009 11:40:52 AM , Rating: 2
Can't agree more, and if you know what you are doing the UI is not a problem either. I've got so used to switching skins whenever I feel like it that phones with fixed UI's are boring to me. Personally I've done away with the entire winmo ui for 3rd party applications.

I don't even display the start menu or top bar anymore, and my contact manager, email, dialer and text messaging is all handled by 3rd party apps. Not saying this is ideal for the masses, because that is the furthest from the truth, but it does give me hope that it is possible for MS to create a good default UI that the masses will accept.

RE: Better UI?
By psychobriggsy on 2/16/2009 12:25:49 PM , Rating: 2
I looked at a video on YouTube. The video was available in HD, for what that's worth with YouTube - I say this because I don't want YouTube artifacts to be argued about.

The interface is jerky.
The interface is the same old stylus interface underneath a new launcher application.
The launcher application has flick scrolling, as do some other UI components, but it all feels like a hodge-bodge of UI features. It's simply not coherent.

This is quite clearly "Windows Mobile 2006". Maybe "Windows Mobile 2007", if you're feeling generous. It ain't no Windows Mobile 2009. I don't see this turning Microsoft's fortunes in this area around. Hopefully Windows Mobile 7 will do that ... in 2010?

RE: Better UI?
By Myrandex on 2/16/2009 12:43:17 PM , Rating: 2
I ran an early Beta on my AT&T Tilt (HTC tytn 2) for about an hour or two, and I have to agree that the interface is jerky. The interface basically replaces the start menu. The homescreen interface is really nice as well (more wimilar to Win Mo Standard's new 6.1 interface). I like some things about it though that's for certain. My device was too underpowered to run it very well, and I'm sure production devices will be even better.


RE: Better UI?
By 9nails on 2/16/2009 1:21:36 PM , Rating: 2
Deja Vu. This sounds much like the problems with Vista when it launched as well. Microsoft seems to have lost the edge at developing small tight code that can run well on minimal computing requirements. I know that they have the talent, but I wonder what product will show all their capabilities.

RE: Better UI?
By taber on 2/16/2009 10:15:21 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think a blanket comment about Microsoft's ability to write more efficient code is appropriate. I also don't think any 1 product can show all their capabilities in such a large/diverse company.

They seem to have heard the complaints about Vista and by most accounts Windows 7 beta performs better on the same hardware. I'm actually writing this from a Win7 beta install and I like it more than Vista. Of course Vista was also hobbled by the long release cycle, which Win7 also seems to be avoiding.

RE: Better UI?
By Rhl on 2/16/2009 4:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
I ran an early Beta on my AT&T Tilt (HTC tytn 2) for about an hour or two, and I have to agree that the interface is jerky. The interface basically replaces the start menu. The homescreen interface is really nice as well (more wimilar to Win Mo Standard's new 6.1 interface). I like some things about it though that's for certain. My device was too underpowered to run it very well, and I'm sure production devices will be even better. Jason

Sounds like you weren't running the right one. I'm using Windows Mobile 6.5 on my AT&T Tilt right now and it's fast... ridiculously fast. It blows WM 6.1 away, and by using SPB Mobile it's got a super-slick, easy to use interface. I love how wide open Windows Mobile is, and I can do almost anything with my phone... especially stuff the iPhone can't, like cut and paste. ;)

RE: Better UI?
By omnicronx on 2/17/2009 11:32:12 AM , Rating: 2
The early builds were terribly slow and buggy (I have tested this myself). I have not tried the newer builds but apparently what you are saying is correct.

RE: Better UI?
By omnicronx on 2/17/2009 11:48:22 AM , Rating: 2
Do you even know what you are looking at.. WinMo 6.5 pre/ beta 1 has been available for quite sometime and was not meant for use with all devices. People at sites like PPC-geeks create custom ROMS to install it on various devices, but this is hardly a good testing environment. Beta 2 is what was probably showed off at MWC.

RE: Better UI?
By ET on 2/16/2009 2:05:35 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, though the GUI isn't my problem. I've had two Windows Mobile phones (WM2003, WM6), and where Microsoft fails is in making them phones. It's the little things, like having to edit the registry (and no built in registry editor) or use a third party app just to be able to tell the WM6 phone not to show SIM contacts. Lack of profiles, no sync with Vista contacts (which Nokia does), no option to default contacts to first name then last name, ...

That's the basic stuff that Microsoft just doesn't seem to get. WM6.5 is probably an interface shuffle that will still leave the phones feeling like PDA's and not phones.

RE: Better UI?
By omnicronx on 2/17/2009 11:28:10 AM , Rating: 2
dows Mobile phones (WM2003, WM6), and where Microsoft fails is in making them phones. It's the little things, like having to edit the registry (and no built in registry editor) or use a third party app just to be able to tell the WM6 phone not to show SIM contacts.
Then you are using the wrong contact manager(no fault of MS). I have never had to do anything more than install a cab to get a different contact manager working. If indeed the registry tweak is needed, a good programmer will put it into their code. (which it seems is the case). I've used many different contact managers (currently use icontact) and the most I have had to do is uninstall the previous contact manager if it was not the winmo default.

Don't get me wrong, Ms has a long way to go, but I would rather them get it right with WinMo 7, than add a bunch of patchwork to get iPhone functionality on a 4-5 year old OS. (WinMo versions 6 and 6.5 are essentially incremental updates for Winmo 5)

Apple took their time, so will Microsoft. I also see no reason to hurry, Q4 results show that more WinMo combined phones shipped than Apple. (numbers were something like 5 million to 4 million if memory serves)

Few options
By dani31 on 2/16/2009 11:44:24 AM , Rating: 2
Things that I need/use from my phone:
- turn-by-turn navigation
- browser with flash
- desktop sync including Outlook and Lotus

For the time being, only WinMo and Symbian comply. Both used to suck, one for usability the other for touch support.

Both are changing... let's hope they change for the better.

RE: Few options
By psychobriggsy on 2/16/2009 12:30:40 PM , Rating: 2
What about ability to handle phone calls and text messages?

I mean, given the frequency the telephony subsystem on WinMob dies, that isn't a feature of those devices, but it's generally expected from a phone.

Don't see the need for flash myself on a mobile device. Do I really want to see all those flash adverts?

RE: Few options
By mxzrider2 on 2/18/2009 4:38:35 AM , Rating: 2
skyfire. best mobile browser.

Why Apple is successful
By MrX8503 on 2/16/2009 12:13:34 PM , Rating: 2
I don't quite understand it, but all of Apple's accomplishments are things that just make sense.

ipod, appstore, itunes, multitouch smartphone, these things aren't that innovative, but yet Microsoft lags way behind. How long has winmo been around and just now MS is doing something about it?

I don't like Apple's draconian business as much as the next guy, but they are getting MS to get off their lazy butts.

RE: Why Apple is successful
By reader1 on 2/16/2009 1:03:00 PM , Rating: 1
Monopolistic companies have no incentive to advance. They're not under any pressure. Apple has to be good or they would go out of business.

By ltcommanderdata on 2/16/2009 2:28:16 PM , Rating: 2
What I still can't understand is why the bundled browser is still based on IE6? Granted Internet Explorer Mobile 6 has some things from newer versions, like JScript support from IE8, but the core rendering engine is still from IE6. That means Microsoft has finally brought Windows Mobile up to 2001, when IE6 was first released. I can understand not basing the new mobile IE off of IE8 since it's still in development, but they could have at least used IE7 which has been around since 2006.

By shadyshahin on 2/26/2009 12:23:24 PM , Rating: 2
I have been using WM6 for a few years now and I am shocked that a company the size of Microsoft is only able to come up with a better GUI now, in 2009. Even now,

about time...
By QueBert on 2/16/09, Rating: 0
Behold! The closing of Windows begins!
By reader1 on 2/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: Behold! The closing of Windows begins!
By omnicronx on 2/17/2009 11:51:30 AM , Rating: 1
Don't know why I am even answering.. but I don't see why any of this matters. You can still install any software you would like without going through the marketplace. Amazingly the two open systems (WinMo/Android) are very similar in allowing 3rd party apps while still maintaining a store, while the closed system of the company that I will not name does not ;)

RE: Behold! The closing of Windows begins!
By reader1 on 2/17/09, Rating: 0
By omnicronx on 2/17/2009 3:34:27 PM , Rating: 2
Ever wonder why Apple can't get any traction in the business world? Two words, proprietary software . Those two words alone are the reason why MS can never do what you are saying,(this is 75% of the market) case closed.

While a closed system may work when you are dealing with a product that has a specific function(i.e a phone), it is more than doable, but when an OS to allow customer specific software, a closed OS no longer becomes possible.So lets stop the rants, until you can come up with an answer to this your posts are essentially baseless.

P.S Your entire post is based upon speculation (i.e furthest thing from proof), and I am the idiot ;)

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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