Microsoft is working another Mobile OS for enterprise devices (commercial devices) that is based on Windows Mobile 6.5.

"In the next six months we will release a new embedded OS called Windows Embedded Handheld, based on Windows Mobile 6.5 technologies ... [and] in the second half of 2011, we will release a version of Windows Embedded Handheld based on Windows Phone 7 technology," Microsoft's Steve Ballmer said via video during a Motorola enterprise smartphone launch event.

Ballmer feels this strategy will allow Microsoft to work on a clear path for enterprises to migrate their business applications to Windows Phone 7.

In reading the report over at PCMag, this sounds like a stop-gap measure until Microsoft can put out a version of Windows Phone 7 for enterprise devices sometime in 2011.

Before Windows CE garnered all that attention last month on tablets, it had always been featured prominently on rugged enterprise devices--think factories, out in the field (US Census), warehouses, etc. Forgoing  the bells and whistles of the traditional Windows Mobile, Win CE was more stripped down and geared towards business needs. WinCE is the core upon which Windows Mobile is built around.

With WM6.5.x and WP7 embedded (next year), Microsoft will continue this push by working with partners to deliver such rugged phones and devices to large companies. The first up is Motorola's ES400 (see image right) being launched on Sprint through their direct enterprise channels (i.e. you'll never see it in a store).

Interestingly, the ES400 features a skinned version of WM6.5.3 that nicely echoes the WP7 Start screen. The phone also has some nice features including an old-school PocketPC VGA screen

  • 600-MHz ARM11 processor
  • GSM HSPA, Sprint's CDMA EVDO
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g
  • 3-inch, 640-by-480 touch screen
  • camera/red LED scanner

Below all of that it is still WM6.5.3, but you'll have to dig deep to get it. It also features some battery-saving enhancements and it is expected to have a 3-year product life cycle (with a software upgrade in the future). See Sprint product listing here:  www.sprint.com/ES400

The reason why this is important is two fold:

  1. Demonstrates Microsoft is still committed to enterprise/delivering a tailored experience--this was always their market, they plan to keep it
  2. Shows there is a push back against using high-end consumer smartphones for enterprise e.g. iPhones--sometimes popular consumer devices don't have a place in the real business world

Additional reporting by George Ponder [Thanks, isaacl, for the tip]