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WM V6.5 - Slide-to-unlock, IE & Widgets

The updated interface will also make significant use of sliding buttons. For example, the new today screen has a row of icons that alert you to voice mails, missed calls, instant messages and new emails. Sliding these buttons left or right will take you to the relevant application. When you've got an incoming call you'll also be presented with sliding buttons for the call answer and decline functions, plus there'll also be a slide-to-unlock feature similar to the system used on the iPhone.

Sliding buttons are used throughout the new V6.5 interface

Other changes include the porting of the sliding panels interface over to touchscreen devices (in V6.5 it was only available on non-touch phones) and the fact that the various selection screens dotted around the OS will now have larger icons and buttons to make them more finger-friendly.

Another big update will come in the form of a new version of Internet Explorer. Microsoft's mobile browser has fallen way behind competitors like Opera Mobile in terms of features and usability so it's no surprise that practically every Windows Mobile smartphone we've reviewed in the last year has come with Opera Mobile pre-installed. Microsoft knows it has to drastically improve IE if it is to stop people turning to third party browsers, and to be fair, from what we've seen so far the new version of IE looks promising.

The new version of IE has much improved zooming controls

The updated browser will have a new rendering engine in an attempt to deliver a more desktop-like browsing experience, but it will also be able to intelligently reorder the layout of a page to make it fit better on a mobile screen. Support for Jscript V5.7 will be brought over from the desktop IE 8 browser and it will also be Flash capable via Flash Lite 3.1. Crucially it will have touch and gesture support, although Microsoft has been a bit sketchy so far on how this will work. What we do know is that the zooming controls will be much improved (you'll be able to zoom via a zooming bar and also by double tapping on an area of the screen), plus there'll be a configurable setting to tell the browser whether it should fetch desktop or mobile versions of websites.

Developers can create web widgets that will look like native applications to users

Furthermore, Microsoft has announced that the new OS will have support for Widgets. Essentially this will allow developers to create Internet applications (written in HTML, CSS, AJAX, JavaScript) that will appear to users as if they were native applications. These widgets will be powered by the updated IE browser and will have access to flash and other ActiveX controls available on the device.

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