Today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft finally revealed its new 6.5 version of the Windows Mobile OS. Most of the revisions to Windows Mobile deal with creating a better experience for users who prefer to use fingertips to interact with the device, a shift that has definite ties to the popularity of the iPhone. Unfortunately due to multiple leaks over the course of the last few weeks, not much of what Microsoft had to show was unexpected, but the various improvements were welcome nonetheless.
For starters, we have a new honeycomb-style menu grid that is allegedly more finger friendly than a traditional grid, at least according to Microsoft. Internet Explorer Mobile has also received considerable polish, new additions include a sliding zoom bar and icons for frequently used commands. The lock screen has been updated as well, it now shows specific alerts based on incoming messages, emails, voicemails, or any other info that is time sensitive. You can also now launch directly into the application that prompted the alert, right from the lock screen.
While this isn’t the total system overhaul that many Windows Mobile users have been hoping for, it may be just enough to keep the OS competitive until Microsoft rolls out Windows Mobile 7. Windows Mobile 6.5 should be finding its way onto handsets in the fourth quarter of this year, though sadly it will not be offered as an upgrade for existing devices. Perhaps this could be due to new mandatory hardware requirements, for example all 6.5 phones are required to have a physical ‘Start’ button. At least, with HTC and LG leading the charge, consumers should have quite a few choices for their new handsets.