Later this year Microsoft will release Windows Mobile V6.5 under the new branding of Windows Phone. Microsoft has been playing down the importance of V6.5, saying that the really big updates will arrive with Windows Mobile V7.0, which has now been pushed back to next year. Ballmer even admitted to delegates at Microsoft's Public Sector CIO Summit in Redmond in March that Windows Mobile V6.5 was not the full release that the company wanted to have this year.
However, it's becoming obvious that V6.5 is likely to be a bigger update than the company is letting on and will introduce some significant user interface tweaks. So let's take a more detailed look at some of these updates and also the new services that will be launched to coincide with the release of the new OS.
Windows Mobile V6.5 is already late. It was originally expected to launch in 2008, was then pushed back to April 2009 and now Microsoft is only saying that it will be released before the end of this year. Unfortunately, V6.5 won't introduce multi-touch control as many had hoped. Instead, that will be reserved for the launch of Windows Mobile 7, which is now officially delayed until next year. However, V6.5 will feature a number of other important changes.
Perhaps the most significant of these is the new honeycomb start menu that Microsoft demoed at Mobile World Congress in February. It displays a list of your commonly used applications and settings in a honeycomb style grid. However, since its debut at WMC this screen has already been redesigned, as the Microsoft employees who were testing the OS didn't like the layout.
On the new version shown at the Mix09 conference in March the honeycomb grid structure is much less pronounced and the actual icons have been made larger so they're easier to press. Inline with Microsoft's desire to make the OS much more user customisable, icons on this screen can be easily dragged around so they can be placed wherever the user wants. The menu also continuously scrolls through all the items, but when you do a single upwards or downwards swipe it will intelligently shift up or down by one page of icons at a time.