Once again, Microsoft makes an interesting (if not entirely sane seeming) business move for its Windows Mobile operating system. Apparently the software giant is feeling the sting of its recent losses in the mobile marketplace. The Android and iPhone OS have both grown substantially this year, often at the expense of Windows Mobile. Digitimes says that Microsoft intends to fight back by adopting a 'dual-platform strategy' to fend off their encroaching foes.
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On October 1st, WinMo 6.5 will hit. A few months later, in February 2010, an updated touch interface version will be released. After that, the next major OS launch will come with WinMo 7 in Q4 of that year. When 7 comes out, 6.5 will be reduced in price but not phased out.
WinMo 6.5 is going to be Microsoft's cheap, accessible OS, geared for direct competition with Google Android in the low-to-mid-range smartphone market. WinMo 7, on the other hand, will be aimed at the iPhone. We have no details about what special features 7 is expected to have, but Microsoft had better be bringing something pretty damned special to the table if they want to have a prayer of dethroning (or even denting) the iPhone OS.
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I'm not sure how 6.5 will really be a competitor for Android, either. Even with a price drop, it will still cost something to license. Android is free, and by the time WinMo gets its cost reduction Google's OS will have a very large head start. It's never a wise move to count Microsoft out, but I don't see them bringing any real innovation to the smartphone arena. If they can't get users excited about their OSes, they aren't going to recapture much of that lost market share.