Reports are surfacing that indicate a certain Redmond software company could be giving OEMs access to a certain mobile OS in just a few short months. After the lackluster reception of Windows Mobile 6.5, Microsoft is looking for a hit. Anything to keep Microsoft’s mobile head above water as the iPhone, Blackberry, and Android continue to move in for the kill.
The new software is reportedly code named “Maldives”, and should be in OEMs' hot little hands in the first quarter of 2010. The final release to consumers isn’t expected until later in the third quarter. This jives nicely with earlier rumors indicating a release to manufacturing in Spring 2010. It may be a while yet before you can get a WinMo 7 device, but you can certainly expect leaked ROMs to make the scene before too long.
The infatuation never ends. Microsoft is letting it be known that it still feels a part of any new user interface technology will have to include speech recognition. Zig Serafin of Microsoft tells us: "Voice is the new touch. It's the natural evolution from keyboards and touch screens. Today, speech is rapidly becoming an expected part of our everyday experience across a variety of devices."
Serafin has a point. Besides it’s Star Treky coolness, speech is a ‘natural’ component of human communication. And, as computers become more intertwined with our routine world, communicating with them on our own terms (rather than there’s) makes a lot of sense. With this in mind Microsoft has been working on speech recognition technology for over a decade, and strengthened its commitment with the acquisition of Tellme Networks in 2007. Microsoft’s developments have been integrated into Bing for Mobile, Windows Mobile 6.5, and Windows 7.
Microsoft’s efforts perhaps need to be viewed as a work in progress. Right now there aren’t a lot of takers on speech enabled computers. In part because the training curve is still pretty steep (individual variation makes it hard to produce a one-size-fits-all solution). And because a lot of us are still uncomfortable with the idea of engaging with our hardware on a personal level.
Still, it’s the future that matters. As hardware and software mature it could be come a mainstream technology. Until then it makes sense for Microsoft, and others, to continue working on it.
HTC’s strengths are innovation and diversity. HTC was first on the scene with an Android phone, and is produces Windows Mobile powered devices. HTC has struck deals with nearly every major cell phone provider. All that’s missing is visibility, Chou hopes this will be corrected with an up-coming global ad campaign: “You.” HTC wants to move itself into the first tier of cell phone makers: Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, and Apple. It has the products, Chou believes, it lacks the name recognition.
Chou’s outlook on the market is interesting for a CEO. Competition doesn’t frighten him. Instead he views it as a positive: “You cannot expect you are the only player in town…You need other players to come and make the ecosystem stronger.” And Chou is still bullish on Windows Mobile, even though the brand has taken a bit of a dive because “innovation has been a little slow.” (A polite way to say Microsoft messed up on development.)
Chou, however, is careful not to spread HTC too thin. With all the portable electronic opportunities available: netbooks, eReaders, tablet computers, HTC plans to stick with what it knows best. “There is a lot of pressure to do these things, but we are a relatively small company and need to be very picky,” Chou said.
Some screenshots have surface that purport to be from Windows Mobile 7. The interface looks cleaner overall, and has completely lost the trademark Windows start button from the corner of the screen. The pics cover a wide variety of the system’s basic functions. Confusingly, the shots are listed as WinMo 6.5.1. The interface is, however, significantly different from previous 6.5.1 leaks, leading most to speculate that these are the first moves into the WinMo 7 development tree.
The call screen has taken on a very iPhone-like aesthetic with a large contact photo. The calendar has been cleaned up dramatically, looking downright usable. The changes to the keyboard may be the most telling, though. Whereas the previous version was cramped and stylus friendly, the new version looks spacious, finger-friendly, and very similar to the Android keyboard. If authentic, these screenshots certainly indicate that Microsoft is moving in the right direction.
Microsoft wants you to love the apps on your Windows Phone. In a new advert for Windows Phones we see what it can be like to love your apps. A somewhat depressed fellow is on his way out, and all his beloved Windows apps sulk around, knowing they’ll be left behind.
As our Microsoft hero walks out the door, he’s followed by Word, Outlook, Twitter, and all the rest. It’s like the end of Casablanca. Two ships passing in the night and such. Just as you fear the goodbye is coming, something magical happens. This Windows Phone loving dude shows his beloveds that he, in fact, has a Windows Phone. You think they’d have known that.
Ecstatic, the apps all run down the stairs to do… whatever it is apps in corporeal form do to people. Doesn’t matter, they all seems really happy. Is this all some fantasy world where people love their WinMo apps? Or is it maybe just your future? Check out the vid for yourself at the link.
According to market research firm iSuppli, Microsoft's Windows Mobile OS for smartphones will outflank most of the competition, nearly triple its userbase, and take the No. 2 spot in the global market, all by the year 2013.
As it stands, Windows Mobile can be found on 27.7 million smartphones, but if iSuppli's prediction proves accurate, that number will balloon to 67.9 million in just a few years, giving Windows Mobile a 15.3 percent share of the global market. Should that happen, only Symbian would claim more users, who iSuppli says will control 47.5 percent of the market.
So what's the catch? Put simply, Windows Mobile 7 will have to succeed and kick ass. As competition heats up, Microsoft can't afford to "screw up" again and fall further behind its competitors.
"Microsoft in 2010 will introduce an updated version of its operating system, Windows Mobile 7, which is expected to sport an enhanced user interface and browser as well as multi-touch control," Tina Teng, senior wireless communications analyst for iSuppli, said in a report. "This will make it much more competitive with the alternatives on the market."
Let's first see if WIndows Mobile 6.5 -- slated for an October 6 release -- is enough to keep WinMo users from jumping ship before Microsoft sets sail with version 7.
After a short seven month run, Microsoft has decided to pull the plug on its Microsoft Recite application for Windows Mobile users, the company announced on Wednesday.
"Microsoft will no longer be offering the Microsoft Recite Technology Preview as of December 31, 2009," the Redmond company wrote in a blog post. "After this date you will no longer be able to access Microsoft Recite from your mobile phone. The Microsoft Recite Team thanks you for your valuable feedback on this product. The ability to capture notes and reminders is an area we are still focused on and we will continue to consider your feedback to build out these rich experiences in upcoming products."
Using voice search technology, Microsoft Recite makes it possible for Windows Mobile users to record notes and later look them up by speaking to the application. This might sound like speech recognition, but Microsoft Recite uses voice pattern matching and doesn't convert speech into text.
The app was first introduced in February of this year, but never made it past the development stage, and now never will.
The first Windows Mobile 6.5 devices haven’t even been released yet, but Microsoft is already thinking about Windows Mobile 7. A recent job posting indicates the software giant’s intention to build social networking into the mobile platform. Suspiciously, there’s a lot of marketing speak. This could be half job posting, and half clandestine press release.
The position is for a Project manager in the Windows Mobile 7 Communications group. The posting goes on to say, “Our vision is to bring social networks to life by integrating them into the core experience of the phone.” They also made clear that they have just “begun drawing the first lines of the Mobile Social Platform". This seems to put to bed the rumors that the new mobile OS would show up in the first quarter of next year.
Microsoft's initiative sounds similar to Palm Synergy, Motorola MotoBlur, and HTC Sense UI. Aggregating social media content on phones does seem to be all the rage these days. Is Microsoft late to the game here, or is the time right? More importantly, can they pull it off?
According to news and rumor site The Inquirer, Microsoft plans to rebrand its Windows Mobile operating system to Windows Phone. The name change "reflects the upcoming desktop operating system release where people away from their PC can have the same experience everywhere," Microsoft explains.
The Windows Phone branding will be applied to Windows Mobile 6.1, the upcoming 6.5 release, and also to the multitouch-capable WIndows Mobile 7, due out sometime in 2010. There's no word yet on when the new Windows Phone branding will be implemented, nor do we have much info on why Microsoft has decided to rebrand, other than to make it easier for consumers.
Windows Mobile 6.5 Windows Phone has already been sent to manufacturers and will include the ability to backup all SMS and email content to the Web, remote disabling of the handset, and the new Windows Marketplace for Mobile.
In the movie Braveheart, there's a pivotal scene involving Mel Gibson and a Scottish battalion where, as William Wallace, he tries to muster some courage from his ragtag company. Face painted blue and half-hysterical, he rallies them with a memorable speech about freedom and love of country. Then, the army proceeds to completely destroy the foreign oppressor in a fight to the bitter end.
In some ways, the current war on smartphone devices could be just as pivotal...and bloody. Companies such as Palm and Nokia have everything to lose if their platforms do not thoroughly crush the competition. Meanwhile, Apple has taken a strong lead with the iPhone, and BlackBerry devices do not appear to be losing any momentum, at least in the business sector. Google has entered the fight with their Android OS, attracting legions of developers to the platform in record time.
All of these operating systems support touch control, rudimentary multi-tasking, rich media, desktop-like Web browsing, and advanced messaging. Yet, only one OS is superior and will ultimately emerge as the victor. It might seem like Apple has already had their Braveheart moment, and maybe there is room for several companies at the top of the pile, but if Windows has taught us anything, it's that a single operating system can become so dominant that every other desktop OS becomes inconsequential. Developers lock into a platform, users get accustomed to it, and that OS wins the war.
We set out to put the major contenders to the test and find out which could become the most dominant. Really, it's too early to call Apple the victor, even though it would be easy to do so with 50,000 apps available and over a million iPhone users. As any technology analyst can tell you, there are actually significantly more Nokia and BlackBerry phones in use today than the iPhone, especially in Europe. The surprise is that the OS that seems to be winning the battle (the iPhone) may not eventually win the OS war in the long run.