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Meet the new Windows Mobile online

We've done our fair share of hating on Microsoft over Windows Mobile, and some much of it is deserved. But we're not above dishing out some unfettered love from time to time, and that's about what we have for the new Windows Mobile online.

The site is mainly geared for consumers, and does a pretty good job of going through the basics of Windows Mobile.

Join us after the jump for a more friendly Microsoft (yeah, we're going that far), one that takes the time to introduce you to Windows Mobile, your phone, and how to make it yours.

The home page

The page you see above is what you first see when you visit the site. You're greeted by a Verizon HTC Touch, and a scrolling list that helps you "Find the phone that fits." Hovering over a phone will display its name, operating system - odd that 6.1 is nowhere to be found - and what carrier you can find it on in the United States. Samsung, HTC and Motorola are represented, though Palm is conspicuously missing. We'll see if the upcoming Treo 800W or Treo 850, which should both sport WinMo 6.1, are added once they're released later this summer (we hope).

Receiving prominent placement is "TotalAccess," which we'll touch on in a little bit.

For now, let's dive into the nav bar at the top. Featured are:

  • Meet Windows Mobile
  • Choose Your Phone
  • Use Your Phone
  • Make It Yours
  • Total Access

Meet Windows Mobile

Ah ha! There's 6.1! And, Microsoft says, "Your mobile life is about to get much better." Better? Yeah. Much? Maybe. But there are a few items on this page that we'd like to point out.

  1. Compare versions: A chart that compares the features of WM 5.0, 6.0 and 6.1, standard and pro. (Actually, the list is so long it's a little unwieldy, but them's the breaks.)
  2. WinMo 6.1 FAQ: Translated, that's Windows Mobile 6.1 frequently asked questions. 'Nuff said.
  3. See the phones: Here's a rundown of phones currently available in the U.S. that are running WinMo 6.1.
  4. Windows Live: We've covered this pretty extensively, but think search, maps, e-mail.

Choose Your Phone

With the myriad devices on the market today, it can be pretty tough - overwhelming, even - to decide what will work best for you, and what will work best within your budget.

For our part, check out How To: Buy a Windows Mobile Phone. Boy, some of those phones look old now, but the principles behind making a decision still stand.

Here, Microsoft lets you drill down through the features, carriers and brands available. Standard vs. Pro. WiFi. GPS. Physical or on-screen keyboard. It's a very useful tool if you're not sure what's out there, or if you're helping someone else pick out their first smartphone. (Also check out our numerous device reviews and Phone Scoop's Phone Finder.)

Outside the U.S.? No problem. Pick your country from the drop-down list, and you're on your way.

Use Your Phone

This is why you bought the thing in the first place, right? This page is broken down into several basic sections.

  1. Getting started: Because, as the site says, you have to start somewhere.
  2. Personalizing: Make the phone your own, without third-party software.
  3. E-mailing and texting: Pretty self-explanatory, but it does tackle how to manage multiple e-mail accounts.
  4. Synchronizing your phone and PC: Still the bane of most WinMo users, to the point where many people only sync over the air. Maybe this will help.
  5. User forums: Find help from someone like you. Or someone more experienced than you.
  6. Support: How to get in touch with your carrier or device manufacturer.
  7. Notices and upgrades: Such as the Daylight Saving Time fix, for those who still need it, and upgrades to ActiveSync.

Make It Yours

Here's a repository of apps, including the usual Microsoft gang - Office Mobile, Live Search, Outlook Mobile, Internet Explorer Mobile (no longer Pocket IE?), Live, and Media Player Mobile.

The Windows Mobile Catalog features third-party apps, though it really serves as a portal to software retailers Handango and MobiHand.

Total Access - the elephant in the room

Evident on just about every page is a link to Total Access. Sign in with your Windows Live ID, and you'll get ... most of the same things you've gotten through the rest of the site, with a couple of bright spots. The best news is that it's all free.

  1. Ringtones, Extras and Add-ons: Preview and download two dozen ringtones (in WMA format, of course). Snag some wallpapers or download entire themes. The Halo 3 content isn't awful.
  2. Tips and premium help: Links to massive, Microsoft-esque PDFs that nobody will make it through. (Then you get an e-mail thanking you for downloading it.)
  3. Software, Services and More: Links to Live Search, an mobile app, Zumobi and Viigo (which is a fan favorite around here).
  4. Member Benefits: See Nos. 1-3. A page to entice you to sign up.

Conclusion: A good start

It's good to see Microsoft making an earnest effort. Simplicity is key for the average user, and this site should offer some help. There's plenty of room for improvement, but this could prove to be a good step as we await Windows Mobile 7, and hope that such extensive how-to sites aren't even necessary.

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WMExperts is, strictly speaking, a Windows Mobile site. But we recognize good wireless industry prose when we see it, and we see it in Daniel Roth's piece in Wired magazine, "Google's Open Source Android Phone Will Free the Wireless Web."

Roth details the birth of Android - the brain child of Andy Rubin, seen above - and the Open Handset Alliance, created to directly compete against WinMo and Apple's iPhone, as well as to challenge the status quo among device makers, carriers and software/OS developers.

"But WMExperts," you say, "you were quick to post on a reported Android delay, and we could see the smirk on your face as you chalked up another point in the Windows Mobile column."

OK, we've been skeptical. But the story provides an interesting look at some of the behind-the-scenes problems with developers and carriers that Microsoft currently has to deal with, that Apple largely has bypassed, and that Google is learning to live with.

And besides. We're trying to be a little less evil.

An excerpt:

Microsoft's system, however, was the ugly stepsister of what Rubin was proposing: Redmond executives cared less about opening up the Net to mobile users than about tying the mobile operating system into its desktop dominance. A decade ago, Microsoft had underestimated the growth of the Web and then lost control of it to Google. Now it looked like it was Google's turn to be caught flat-footed.

Read "Google's Open Source Android Phone Will Free the Wireless Web"

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Find your phone with Navizon's Mobfindr

Recently updated in the movement to invade your children's privacy, follow your cheating spouse, ...never lose your phone and locate your friends is Mobfindr from Navizon that will allow you to find the location of nearly any device with a text message.

How it works: The Navizon software utilizes "Virtual GPS", which uses WiFi and triangulation from cell towers to approximate your location. Mobfindr is a service that runs in the background. When an SMS containing a customized passphrase is sent to the Mobfindr-enabled device, it returns its approximate location (within about a mile) via text coordinates.

The Navizon software also features "group" and "buddy" services that allow you and your friends to locate each other.

You can try a free 15-day demo or shell out $24.99 for Navizon Premium. Mobfindr currently only works with the iPhone should be released as a separate application for WinMo and BlackBerry in the near future. A version for S60 devices also is in the works.

Peep video of the Mobfindr service after the break.

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Play Commodore 64 on Windows Mobile

1982-83. A banner time for geeks and gamers the world 'round. Lotus 1-2-3. Reagan's "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative. Pioneer 10 leaves the solar system. Nintendo goes on sale in Japan. Microsoft Word (word!).

And, of course, the Commodore 64.

In this age of dual-core and multitouch, it's sometimes nice to go back to a simpler era, when 8 bits were enough to get you through the day. Now, you can do it on your Windows Mobile device, thanks to Clickgamer's Pocket Commodore 64 Plus Vic 20.

Featured in this upgrade are:

  • A completely re-written new core and interface.
  • Complete user control over CPU frequency, disk frequency, vertical frame rate, border sizes, etc.
  • BIOS roms BUILT-IN! Choose from 7 Kernal ROMs and 2 disk ROMs!
  • Full menus, keyboard and paddle controls in landscape mode.
  • Customizable skins.
  • And much, much more!

Pocket C64 runs on all forms of Windows Mobile, standard and pro, and costs

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Sometimes you just have to shake your head at Microsoft and sigh.

In a recent interview with the Reuters news network, Andy Lees, senior VP of Redmond's Mobile Communications side, said future versions of WinMo will focus on improving the music experience.

"One thing that Apple has leveraged on is the music scenario, and I think that that is something the operators and ourselves are partnering on."
Lees said music in cellphones was a huge business opportunity, since every year consumers bought 10 times as many music-enabled cellphones as iPods.

You can almost see Microsoft execs walking into Tuesday night's Celtics-Lakers thrashing in fourth quarter, sitting down and saying, "Hey, guys. How's it going? Who's winning?"

So, let's recap the recent MS revelations:

Catch the trend? We ... Need ... Better ...

Now the good news: Microsoft really is working on all of the above. Real redesigns - and not just "better" apps - are actually in the works. Let's just hope that it comes soon enough to counter the coming iPhone marketshare onslaught.

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While you were off last week gnashing your teeth over whether to desert Windows Mobile for that other soon-to-be released device, Mozilla released an early demo of what could ultimately become the Firefox Mobile browser.

Aza Raskin, head of User Experience at Mozilla Labs, warns us that the demo features an extremely experimental UI and is likely to change significantly before the Firefox Mobile browser is released. And more change seems likely, if you compare this latest demo to a previous peek. Also, this latest demo only focuses on touchscreen devices, meaning Windows Mobile Standard need not apply, though it does appear in the earlier demo.

Here are a few highlights:

  • "Tabbed" browsing exists as separate browser windows floating in space.
  • Pages feature kinetic scrolling, "Just like on the iPhone," Razkin says.
  • The UI is based on touchscreen, but is not multitouch.
  • Tabs can be dragged throughout the canvas and arranged however you like
  • Forward, back, address bar/search bar and bookmark controls are hidden in the side of the browser window and appear when you drag and pan a page horizontally.
  • At the bottom of each page is a row of extensible buttons that could be used to "digg this page," "send e-mail link," etc.

At this point, just about anything is better than Microsoft's Pocket Internet Explorer. And with the expected release of Opera 9.5 and Skyfire still a popular beta Firefox Mobile could prove to be another strong option when it's finally released.

Check in after the jump to watch Raskin's demo video of Firefox Mobile.


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Apple Inc. on Monday announced the follow-up to it's wildly popular iPhone, the iPhone 3G ...

Sorry, even we get caught up during the silly season. And with that, Taiwan's E-TEN unleashed three new devices on its Glofish line last week at Computex 2008.

There's nothing terribly new here, as Phone Arena first showed us. Uou're unlikely to see any of these during your morning commute as E-TEN doesn't have the best (read: any) track record getting pickup from US carriers. Though we will say this: They rolled out WM6 updates earlier than the U.S. bigs.

But here's the skinny:

  • The X900 is a quad-band GSM follow-up to the X800, with a 480-by-640 screen.
  • The DX900 features dual sim cards, for those who swing that way, hitting up the 850/900/1800/1900 bands on one hand, and 850/1900/2100 on the other. It also sports a 3MP camera.
  • The X610 is another basic update to the X600.
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Microsoft has just published a letter to Windows Mobile partners from Sr. VP Letter from Andy Lees. In the letter, Lees lays out some of the strengths of Windows Mobile that don't necessarily get enough credit. It's worth a read to see what Microsoft is proud of and get a hint of what they're looking to focus on moving forward.

In any case, a lot of folks are reading the letter as “Microsoft trying to Steal the iPhone's thunder,” but that's not quite our take. Instead, look at it this way: there's going to be a ton of press out there for the iPhone next week. When these reporters are looking to finish out their article with a counter-point for “objectivity,” it would be helpful for them to have a quick, easily digestible letter from which they can insert the Microsoft talking point into their article. In other words - Microsoft knows they'll be getting a little bit of press in iPhone articles next week -- this is a good way to control what that message is.

Though we'll say that if you're looking for a paean to Windows Mobile that really lays out why it's a stupendous platform, we recommend our very own Triumphant Return to Windows Mobile from the Smartphone Round Robin. Also, believe it not, like Lees, we still believe that the iPhone can be a help to Windows Mobile overall.

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Diamond to get Opera 9.5

A lot of you in Windows Mobile land have been drooling over the new HTC Diamond, we know we are. One of the aspects we're most excited about that you may have missed in the myriad of spec run-downs: Opera 9.5.

...Actually, it's a customized version of Opera 9.5. Minor adjustments have been made so that the Diamond can function properly with one-handed navigation and proper alignment of web sites. It even goes head to head with the iPhone's accelerometer and does a cartwheel when you turn it on the side for wide screen viewing. Here's some more details on the new stuff.

For most of us, though, the big news here is that Opera Mobile 9.5 should be landing for other devices soon. How soon? ....Not soon enough. If you missed the new Opera 9.5 browser take a look here to see the magic.

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Looks like a little company named HKC (sounds familiar) is upping the anti when it comes to designing new Windows Mobile devices. I just caught wind that they are launching new Windows Mobile Pro handsets that work on the trusty GSM as well as the beloved CDMA. That would be the W1000, which covers GSM on 900 / 1800 / 1900 as well as CDMA. Note: that means no US GSM support. Or sales, likely.

They even whipped up what they claim is the first dual-SIM GSM handset. To me it sounds like a good investment if you

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Google Maps or Live Search

For the longest time Google Maps and Windows Live Search have been clashing for title of best map software. In my experience both have been very useful tools in my everyday life. The funny thing is that after I went through each of them extensively, I concluded that both are needed in order to be productive.

Windows Live excels in category search. With a simple address Live will recommend local bars, clubs, and restaurants in your vicinity. Then once you found your local restaurant or movie theater you can check reviews on it, get directions to it, or send that address to a friend to meet up for the date. Easy access to gas prices in the local area and movie info make it that much more useful. My favorite is showing up to the theaters and using Live Search to check info and ratings before we head in. Then again there are some features such as my location and faster maps that Windows Live Search lacks.

Google maps makes up where Windows Live Search misses. Need faster maps? Googles got it. Need the ability get an approximate location? Googles got it. For me it

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Google to Compete Directly with Windows Mobile

The oft-rumored, pratically fabled Google Mobile Phone isn't what many thought it would be. The rumors were all over the map, so much so I avoided writing about it because it was difficult to ascertain even a tiny clue about what was going on.

Well, now we know. Google isn't making the hardware. They're making the software. They're going to compete directly with Windows Mobile, on very much the same business model: make the OS and let hardware people make the phones. The only difference is that, much like their internet offerings, the OS will be free, likely subsidized by ads:

“The essential point is that Google’s strategy is to lead the creation of an open-source competitor to Windows Mobile,” said one industry executive, who did not want his name used because his company has had contacts with Google. “They will put it in the open-source world and take the economics out of the Windows Mobile business.”

Some believe another major goal of the phone project is to loosen the control of carriers over the software and services that are available on their networks.

Read: For Google, Advertising and Phones Go Together - New York Times

Analysis after the break, go getchyer panic and then getchyer happy thoughts: click the "read more" link.

Initial Panic

Right now everything feels quiet, like a calm before the storm, like sitting in a foxhole on a foggy morning, like sitting in a jeep on a lost island and watching a cup of water ripple - the T-Rex is coming.

Microsoft has been viewing Google as their main competition for a long time now. If that feeling wasn't cemented before, it is now.

I really hope that this doesn't mean I won't be able to use GrandCentral someday.

Why It's Good for Windows Mobile Users

Now, the bright side for Windows Mobile lovers - there are a lot of bright sides.

Writing a Smartphone operating system is hard. So hard that, at least up to this point, Apple has taken a flyer on it and developed a closed-system that doesn't offer an SDK (we got your SDK right here), or cut and paste. It's a supercharged-feature-phone, but not (yet) a smartphone. Heck, Palm has been saying they're developing something nearly identical to what Google is talking about for years now and they're still 12-18 months away from releasing anything. The point is that will take a long time before Google's featureset will be comparable to Windows Mobile.

Competition is good, despite what people are fond of saying about Microsoft's embrace and extend philosophy. In fact, there's so much growth potential in the smartphone space, anything that grows the market will grow it for everybody (at least for now). The rising tide raises all ships metaphor still applies.

Free (with ads) sounds scary. But I, and I think a lot of other people, will pay a little more for keeping our precious smartphone screen real-estate ad free, thanks.

I really and truly do hope that Google achieves their goal "to loosen the control of carriers." That helps everybody. Carriers are evil, really really evil . Google's motto is "don't be evil." Carriers could learn from that.

Bottom line: It's still the software, stupid, which I wrote in response to a round of Google rumblings back in July:

And I have a lot of faith in the Windows Mobile team and the Windows Mobile developer community when it comes to function. Which brings us back around again, to Google. Google presents an interesting challenge (yes, Billy G, a "challenge") to Microsoft: Can you take the simple, intuitive, and direct spirit of the original Google homepage and apply it to a smartphone? Can you continue to increase the power while also making it more intuitive to use?

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Zune runs on Windows Mobile or CE?

Ok, so I'd assumed that the Zune ran on top of Windows Embedded CE (maybe version 5, maybe version 6), which also supplies the underpinnings for Windows Mobile (version 5 of CE provides underpinning for WM5 and WM6. CE 6 is supposed to underpin Photon). It's all very confusing, this article helps a bit.

In any case, the New Zunes hit and everybody's a atwitter over them. Which, of course, makes people ask about Zune Phones to compete with the iPhone. We already knew that Microsoft is more likely to build a Zune into future versions of Windows Mobile than they are to build a phone into the Zune's OS (thus sayeth the Ballmer). Check out this quote from J Allard, though:

J Allard, the Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) executive in charge of Zune, was interviewed by Reuters and one of the questions was: So are there any thoughts about a Zune phone?
“A: (Points to head) Yes. (Points to mouth) No. (Laughs) The thing we are focusing on is that Zune is music first. We think there is a lot of runway first in redefining the music experience with partners. That said, we built it on the same operating system as that phone right there. (Points to Motorola (NYSE: MOT) Q running Windows Mobile) So we have the flexibility to take these in a different direction where our customers, our partners and we are ready.”


Der. So the question is, what does "the same operating system" mean? Windows Embedded CE or Windows Mobile? Put another way: is the Zune a sister-OS to Windows Mobile with the same father (both based on CE), or is it a child of Windows Mobile (based on WM). Or perhaps it's some sort of twisted, southern-stereotype combination of those two options.

So when a Windows Mobile "Zune-edition" phone comes out, will it be its own grandpaw?

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Join us in reading Hobbes' epic How-To install guide, the definitive one for how to get the stuff you want on your Windows Mobile device. It's geared to the new user, but even an old-hat like myself has learned a thing or two from this monster guide. If you're like me, you have a friend or family member who's always hitting you up for help with their Windows Mobile smartphone. My new advice to them: read this article. -- Ed.

Window Mobile (WM) phones can certainly make a huge impact on your productivity on a personal level as well in your professional career. It can offer hours of entertainment with games, movies and music while making sure you never miss a beat from the office while away from your desk. When someone buys their first WM phone, they can usually be placed into two different camps. Those who have only owned a regular cell phone and this is their first smartphone... and those who have owned smartphones in the past, but never a WM phone (i.e. they have only owned Palm OS, Symbian, Blackberry, etc.). In either case, as with anything else in this world, there is a learning curve in order to reach that level of comfort and understanding with their new phone, though this learning curve is probably smaller than some might think at first.

This is going to be the first part in a series aimed at addressing the most common questions, beginner misunderstandings, avoidable unneeded frustrations, etc... that many brand new WM users face. Or for some long time or casual WM users, it may simply answer questions you might have been too embarrassed to ask about!

Part one focuses on how to copy files to your WM phone as well as how to install and unistall software applications on your phone. This guide is written with the beginner in mind, so it does go into a little more detail than you would normally find.

How To: Manually Transfer Files From the PC to the Phone

There are times you will want to transfer files to your new Windows Mobile phone. They may be Word or Excel docs for work, your collection of MP3s, a program you want to install, or pictures of your 3 year old that you are itching to show anyone who will look. There are a few different ways you can transfer files from your PC to your WM phone. Sometimes you will have to make a judgment call as to which way will be the best for the file(s) that you want to transfer, depending on it's size, how many there are, and the location in relation to your phone. In other words, is the file big or small, do you have 2 or 163 files, is it on the PC sitting next to the phone or is the file 2,000 miles away on you boss' laptop. These tutorials assume you have a basic knowledge of Windows XP or Vista on your PC.

Transfer with ActiveSync

If you only need to transfer a few small files and you can connect the phone to the PC that has the files, then you can use ActiveSync to transfer the file. Please be aware that if you are using Windows XP vs Windows Vista, the steps below are very similar with only minor differences. The big difference is basically in the name of the Utility that you use depending the OS on your PC. In Windows XP you will use ActiveSync, which you may need to install on the PC (you can download the latest version here). In Windows Vista it already comes with its version of ActiveSync called Windows Mobile Device Center. Here is how you would do it with both WinXP and Vista:

  1. Open Windows Explorer on your PC (usually Start / All Programs / Accessories / Windows Explorer )
  2. Connect your phone to your PC
  3. In XP: After ActiveSync shows it is connected, click on the "Explore" button on ActiveSync on your PC

    In Vista: After Windows Mobile Device Center on your PC shows it is connected to your phone, hover your mouse over File Management and then click on the "Browse The Content Of Your Device"

  4. In the ActiveSync Explorer or the Windows Mobile Device Center Explorer window you just opened on your PC, browse to the folder on your phone you want to copy the file to.
    In WinXP: The window will usually open in your phone's My Documents folder in WinXP ActiveSync. In order to browse anywhere else, you will have go up one level by double clicking on "My Windows Mobile Based Device" and then browse to any folder on your phone or select Memory Card and browse to any folder there.
    In Vista: Vista's Windows Mobile Device Center it will open up to the root directory so you will have to start by clicking on the phone for the internal memory or the SD card to explorer's it's folders.
  5. Now in Windows Explorer on your PC find the file that you want to copy to your phone.
  6. To copy the file to your phone, simply drag the file from Windows Explorer to the the window of the ActiveSync Explorer or Windows Mobile Device Center Explorer window.

  7. A progress bar will show the status of the file transfer. Please note that if you are using Windows XP, you will not be able to browse either the ActiveSync Explorer window or Windows Explorer until the transfer is completed, but if you are using Windows Vista you will be able to continue to browse while the files are being copied.

You really only want to use this option if the file(s) you want to transfer are small. You also do not want to do this if you are going to transfer a lot of files.

Transfer with a Card Reader

One of the easiest ways (and the way I personally do it most of the time) is to simply remove the memory card from your phone and plug it into a USB card reader connected to your PC. Then you simply use Windows Explorer to drag and drop any file(s) you want copy from your PC to any folder on your phone's memory card.

There are times that this will really be your only option, too. For example, when you want to transfer a VERY large file (i.e. the map file for the whole USA for your GPS navigation program) or a large group of files (i.e. 682 MP3 files) then you want to use a memory card reader for two reasons: First is that copying large files or a large group of files via ActiveSync may literally take **hours** longer. I am not kidding. When I first tried using Active Sync to copy about a GIG of MP3s to my phone, 6 hours later it was still trying to finish them. It only took a matter of minutes with my card reader. Secondly, if ActiveSync does not recognize the file format, it may try to convert to a format it likes better, but then makes it not usable for the intended program (I had this happen to me when I tried use ActiveSync in WinXP to transfer my map files for my GPS navigation program).

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Office Mobile 6.1 Coming Soon

An update to Office Mobile, which will finally add full support for the latest file formats from the desktop version of office, is coming soon. It was actually available briefly, due to a little mixup:

On his blog, Langridge discussed the upcoming release of Office Mobile 6.1 which was perfectly acceptable, except he said that it was currently available and provided a working link. The link's public availability was a complete accident as it was only intended for internal testing, and Langridge ended up having to remove it on Thursday evening.

Read: Office Mobile 6.1 coming soon

That's the way of things with blogging, sometimes. No worries, Landridge, we've all been guilty of hitting the "post" button a little too quickly. We're all looking forward to the update, it was announced back in June that it will be available for both WM5 and WM6 and it will be free.

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