Clearly, Steve Ballmer is determined to dominate this morning's news. After smugly rejecting Jerry Lang's 180 Yahoo takeover plea, the outspoken CEO has today let slip a biggie for lovers of smartphones everywhere: Windows Mobile 6 is real and it's coming soon.
Speaking during an investor briefing for Aussie telco Telstra, Ballmer was as straight talking as usual casually explaining "With releases we'll make this year - releases we'll make with 6.5 next year, Windows Mobile 7, I think we have a pretty interesting roadmap." Well, pretty interesting now Steve, that's for sure...
Of course, the cat was virtually out the bag already when WM 6.5 was referenced by embattled Motorola handset CEO Sanjay Jha in his company's earnings call last week (attention deflection, anyone?). Jha said "Windows Mobile 6 has not delivered the experience that I think Apple has been able to deliver, but as you look at the plan that Windows Mobile 7 and even 6.5, I think there are significant new added features which will help the platform."
So what can we expect from WM 6.5? Plenty of tweaks for sure, but the 110 per cent nailed on cert will be a completely overhauled UI. Both Windows Mobile 6 and 6.1 have rightly been pilloried for their PC-centric, unintuitive and stylus-needing ways (I mean just look at it below) so no doubt larger finger-friendly icons, intuitive scrolling and a new version of pocket Internet Explorer will be making their debuts.
Perhaps the bigger question however is whether or not WM 6.5 will be an upgradeable option (free or otherwise) or if a new handset and new contract will be your only escape route (short of switching allegiances to a G1, BlackBerry Bold / Storm or iPhone 3G, naturally).
Let's all hope for the former because if the smartphone market is to continue pushing forward as impressively as it has done then it needs a Microsoft which is on top of its game and cranking up the pressure on everyone else...