We're about to get into some pretty heavy inside baseball here, so bear with us. Microsoft has given control of licensing and distribution of Windows Mobile to Bsquare and will no longer be handling things itself. From the presser:
Bsquare will begin supporting approximately 30 select Windows Mobile partners with licensing, technical support and go-to-market activities as their current direct agreements with Microsoft end. Bsquare will offer personalized account management and highly-responsive technical support to ensure these Windows Mobile OEMs are successful with current Windows Mobile products.
Why, you ask? Said Daren Mancini, general manager in the OEM division at Microsoft:
“As developers and OEMs expand the number of mobile applications, services and devices, Microsoft is taking a new approach to sell and support Windows Mobile to a broader base of both consumer- and enterprise-focused Windows Mobile customers. Bsquare is uniquely positioned to leverage its deep knowledge of the Windows Mobile operating system, ecosystem and marketplace and serve the broader base of customers with its consultative approach.”
Um, so, why, you ask, would Microsoft not want to handle the licensing of its own product? (And if there's anything Microsoft loves to do, it's license products.) Guesses are all over the map right now.
- JKontherun opines that it could distance Microsoft from its partners enough to allow it to develop its own hardware. (Something Microsoft has repeatedly said it does not want to do, will not do, and we should all quit asking if it'll do it.)
- IStartedSomething's Long Zheng offers that it could fuel competition and let Microsoft concentrate on the OS more. He also says that could be the reason for the recent (and very much supposed) crackdown on some of the latest cooked ROMs. Zheng also worries that this could cause even more delays in getting future versions of Windows Mobile (and updates) out the door.
As for us? We're on the fence. We're less worried about delays, given that we know Microsoft is at least thinking about over-the-air updates for its OS, and you wouldn't just hand over control Windows Mobile if you thought the new company would sit on it. So will this this a good thing? (And, like you, we're trying to suppress or feelings of "Can it get much worse?") Only one way to find out.