Windows Mobile has received more criticism than any software I can remember (Lotus Notes, Internet Explorer and Outlook run it close). So it confuses me that Microsoft has been so quiet about the announcement of version 6.5.3 which was soft launched with the Sony Ericsson Aspen last week (pictured). Why confused? Because, despite its incremental version number, this actually looks a highly worthwhile update...
ZDNet has been sent the official feature list for WM 6.5.3 and there are some hugely welcome additions, most notably:
- Capacitive touchscreen support
- Platform to enable multitouch
- Touch controls throughout system (no need for stylus)
- Consistent Navigation
- Horizontal scroll bar replaces tabs (think settings>system>about
- Magnifier brings touch support to legacy applications
- Simplified out-of-box experience with fewer steps
- Drag and drop icons on Start Screen
- (Mobile) Internet Explorer Page load time decreased
- IE Memory management improved
- IE Pan & flick gestures smoothed
- IE Zoom & rotation speed increased
- Updated runtime tools (.NET CF 3.5, SQL CE 3.1)
- Arabic read/write document support
- Watson (error reporting) improvements and bug fixes
How do we take this? While I could be extremely sarcastic (I have been in the past) with messages of long overdue, I'd actually suggest it is extremely positive news and for two reasons. Firstly it is great news for existing Windows Mobile 6.5 users who can finally enjoy functionality that is long overdue. Secondly, with all the talk of Windows Mobile 7 getting its debut airing at Mobile World Congress, it provides a far more positive stepping stone and suggests there could still be hope for the platform after all.
Many have argued Microsoft should pull out of the mobile sector, but I'd hope it doesn't come to that. Windows Mobile platforms do bring an openness iPhone users can only dream of and Windows 7 has shown Microsoft does have the potential to turn dodgy OSes around. I, for one, am keeping my fingers crossed...