We're a little more than a week away from likely finding out what all the Windows Phone Seven (or Windows Mobile 7, or Seven, or whatever) is all about. And that means it's time for more rumors to come crawling out of the woodwork.
Before we begin: We're going to answer these rumors as if they're true, but honestly we have no idea if they are or not. Obviously we still don't have any official word as to what's ahead for Mobile World Congress, and we still don't really know how these rumors might or might not fit in with the other big ones we've heard.
Rumor: Windows Phone Seven will debut at Mobile World Congress. But it will only be the user interface. No hardware, and no in-depth demos.
Hardly a shocker there, as we've been telling you that for a very long time, and it's mostly been confirmed by Microsoft execs. Don't be too worried about not getting overly in depth. That'll come.
Rumor: The new UI, codenamed "Metro," is similar to that of the Zune HD. It will have a completely new start screen.
Again, that surprises anybody? You know what else has a UI that's similar to the Zune HD? Windows Mobile 6.5. That said, the two feel very different. (You can thank the Zune HD's Snapdragon processor and capacitive screen for that, though the HTC HD2 closes the gap nicely.)
Oh, and if this really turns out to be true, just remember: I told you so.
Rumor: No Flash support, but Silverlight's on board. And there will be no fewer than four development sessions at Microsoft's MIX10 conference in March.
As far as the MIX10 conference goes, we've known since November that they'll be talking the latest version of Windows Mobile there. And "Windows Phone Application and Game Development" is peppered throughout the session list. So, yeah, it's on the agenda.
As for Silverlight, we've known for quite some time that it's going to play a pretty big part in WP/WM 7. But what I keep thinking back to is a concept video we saw last year. It likely has less to do with what we'll see unveiled as it does what's possible. And that's exciting.
And as for Flash: It's time to get over it. For reals.
Rumor: Apps can only be loaded through the Marketplace, and there's no multitasking as we now know it. Apps will pause in the background, however, and there will be push notifications.
The word "Multitasking" gets thrown around a lot these days. What you really want is the ability to stop what you're doing, go do something else, and then come back to the original task, right where you left off. So what if only one app is "running" at a time? As long as you don't lose your place, no biggie.
No sideloading? Again, it's a brave new world out there, folks. But never underestimate the, shall we say, "enthusiast" community to find ways around things.
Rumor: There won't be any backward NETCF compatibility.
I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll have to say it again: It's likely time to forget what you know about Windows Mobile, folks. Don't think of this as a new version. Think of this as a new platform.
Will things be ported? Will there be emulators? Maybe. But starting fresh isn't a bad thing. When you buy a new car, you lose the work and money you put into the last one. But do you look back?
Rumor: Full Zune integration. Syncing will be done through the Zune desktop software. Full Xbox integration.
Somebody want to tell us what "Zune integration" is? That's another one of those phrases that's been thrown around without anyone really knowing what it means. If it has a Zune-like UI or media player, is that "Zune integration?" If it works through the Zune Marketplace or desktop software, is that "Zune integration?"
Oh, and good riddance, Windows Mobile Device Center.
Rumor: No OEM interfaces. As in, no Sense UI, no Mobile Shell, etc.
Again, surprised? It's a paradigm shift for Microsoft, and one that's going to make a lot of people unhappy. We're all going to have to get over it. Sorry.
OK, everybody. That's it. Is this the future of Windows Mobile? Will there be several tracks? One week to go, and then we'll find out ... something. Stay tuned.