While what many want isn't Windows Mobile 6.5, but Windows Mobile 7 we are at least getting it a little earlier than anticipated after Microsoft today revealed the OS's official release date.
The next iteration of the Windows Mobile platform will hit retail stores worldwide from 6 October, a nice surprise given previous suggestions it may not arrive until Christmas. In fact it will even beat Windows 7 out the door which launches on 22 October, making next month one heck of a busy time for the company.
As you might expect, virtually all the major players have backed Windows Mobile 6.5 and its Windows Phone supporting cloud services. In Europe, for example, this includes mobile operators Orange, Deutsche Telekom AG (T-Mobile) and Vodafone plus manufacturers Acer, HTC, LG Electronics, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba. Absentees (at least at this stage) include iPhone carrier O2 and troubled manufacturer Motorola.
As for the OS itself, we've already looked at Windows Mobile 6.5 beta in some depth and come away wanting. That said, later builds have looked far more promising and while we doubt RIM, Apple or Palm are shaking in their boots it does suggest Microsoft is finally beginning to get its mobile platform back in order.
Expect a rash of Windows Mobile 6.5 handset announcements from now until launch.
In related news we really have to take out hats off to Microsoft for hating its Internet Explorer 6 web browser almost as much as us. In a wonderful gesture, the Redmond giant has announced it will support Hunger Action Month and donate eight meals to Feeding homeless and starving US citizens for the simple act of downloading Internet Explorer 8.
The move is primarily designed to create a truly compelling (and moral) reason for anyone still using IE6 to upgrade. If you need another, it is that the limited support in IE6 combined with its market share is holding up web site development. Interestingly, Microsoft will its donation to anyone who just downloads IE8 whether or they use it or even have it already. Now that is something we can get behind (even if we suggest you do continue to browse with Firefox in general)...