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For all our gripes about Microsoft's problems when it comes to branding, this one's kind of a no-brainer. It was announced this morning at Mobile World Congress that if a Windows Phone (See? We can stick with it) is going to run Windows Mobile 6.5, it's going to have to have that familiar little Windows "flag" on it to serve as a start menu button. [via] And the flag button will take you to the honeycomb hideout start menu.

Above, you see said flag on the new HTC Touch Diamond 2 and Touch Pro 2. And assuming Microsoft holds manufacturers to the "no flag, no 6.5" edict, this should be a pretty clear indication of what phones will get upgrades to 6.5 — HTC's Peter Chou said the Diamond 2 and Touch Pro 2 will get free upgrades — and which ones won't. (Phil looks down at his trusty Moto Q9h and sheds a tear.)

Update: OK, OK. We didn't mean that quite as literally as it read. At this point we have no idea what will be updated from 6.1 to 6.5, save for the Touch Diamond 2 and Touch Pro 2. The Palm Treo 750 has a little flag start button on it, but it's a pretty safe bet we won't see it updated to 6.5. It's more of a future branding thing, folks, not a litmus test.

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer invited LG exec Skott Ahn up on stage at Mobile World Congress. The two ripped through a couple of showtunes, and then Ahn dropped the bomb — LG's making Windows Mobile it's primary smartphone operating system for the foreseeable future.

We're talking dozens (like, 50 or so) phones over the next three years. They two companies will have joint marketing services, and Ahn joined in on the new company line (which we also heard back at CES): "I'm sure we can take the Windows Phone market to the next level," he said.

We've had the less-than-stellar LG Incite on AT&T now for a while in the states. We're expecting to see at least a few LG Windows Phones (might as well get used to that moniker) here at MWC09.

Full presser after the jump.

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No, there still isn't going to be a Zune phone. But CNET's Ina Fried lends even more credence to some of Zune's features showing up on Windows Mobile phones. She reports that Microsoft's Zune team has been split in two, with the software end now reporting to the Media Center side under Enrique Rodriguez, and the hardware side falling under the auspices of Tom Gibbons, how also heads the design end for Windows Mobile. So, the phone's not coming to the Zune. But bringing the Zune to the phone?

Rodriguez wasn't ready to offer details on when the Zune service would come, say, to Windows Mobile, but he did say to expect products within this calendar year that take the Zune service beyond just Microsoft's own line of digital music players.

Add this to what we recently learned about Microsoft's "reference chassis" for the future of Windows Mobile, and the picture is continuing to become a little less muddy. Microsoft's moving the pieces around the board, and Zune services are just part of the start of something new. The end game definitely isn't year, and probably not even for 2010. But it's clear Microsoft is plowing ahead with Windows Mobile.

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Mobile World Congress starts Monday, and we're expecting Microsoft to officially unveil Windows Mobile 6.5 at some point early in the event.

Unofficially, the leaked ROMs keep flying through the Interwebs. One of the more recent – and the best we've seen since learned about Outlook Live earlier this week – hit today at PocketPC.ch. [via] There are a few dozen large shots reportedly taken of an HTC Touch HD, and we get a great look at the (er, HTC) on-screen keyboard, as well as the phone screen, both of which you can see above.

We've got more pictures after the break, and hit up the translated page for more chatter.

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Yeah, you read that right, and you'll likely see more headlines (See exhibits A, B, C and D) about losing the "Mobile" name. But before we all start freaking out, this is something we have recently discussed:

We all heard Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in his CES keynote refer to "Windows phones." (Read our liveblog here.) And that spurred the following in a reponse to one of our readers about viruses and Windows Mobile. Quoting, well, ourselves:

Given that Microsoft decided to call their mobile Operating System Windows Mobile and given that more recently they seem to want to refer to their stuff as "Windows Phones" (As Steve Ballmer did in the CES keynote), it's not mere paranoia to wonder about these types of issues, but a legitimate confusion about just what Windows Mobile is and how it relates to Windows now and in the future.

So what should we expect? Digitimes (that's Exhibit A, above) has a source claiming that "going forward, Windows Mobile-based handsets will be promoted simply as Windows phones without specifying an OS version number." 

Windows Mobile ain't "Windows," but there's a lot more opportunity for people to get the integration possibilities by calling it a "Windows Phone," not to mention fewer syllables.  We've been heard to complain that "Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard" doesn't exactly make for easy advertising copy, so in that sense "Windows Phone" is a lot better.  On the other hand, the prospect of having to explain that a "Windows Phone" is actually "Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard" and so can't run World of Warcraft give us the heebie-jeebies, just a little.  You?

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We're trying not to become too worried over the recent rumor that we're not going to see Windows Mobile 7 until 2010. So, we keep reminding ourselves that great things must be afoot, and that takes time. Reinforcing that optimism is news that Microsoft recently moved several exec-types to the Windows Mobile team.

From Techflash [via]:

Confirming a tip we received, the company acknowledged this afternoon that Zune executive Joe Belfiore and Windows Home Server GM Charlie Kindel have shifted to the Mobile Communications Business, the group responsible for Windows Mobile. They join Terry Myerson, who came from the Exchange team last year.

OK, there's no Zune phone coming. We know that. But lends even more credence to the reports that Windows 7 will be more Zune-esque or multimedia-centric. Bossman Steve Ballmer himself will be speaking at Mobile World Congress, so maybe we'll learn more then. If not? We'll just have to keep beating the bushes till 2010.

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Acer Smartphone Confirmed: Feb 16

We knew that after Acer's acqusition of E-Ten that it was only a matter of time before we saw an Acer Smartphone.  That time will apparely come February 16th at Mobile World Congress.  We're hoping for some 6.5 action, but honestly we'd settle for something new and interesting and not just a rebrand of E-Ten's Glofiish series -- devices which are nothing to sniff at, but still aren't really the makings of of a brand new launch.

MWC09 should be pretty exciting, we'll be there. 

[Read: Pocket-Lint via BGR]

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Microsoft just announced that its next desktop operating system will come in five flavors, much to the chagrin of many:

  • Windows 7 Starter
  • Windows 7 Home Basic (for "emerging markets")
  • Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate

Here in Windows Mobile world, we've got two choices within the OS – Professional (for touchscreen phones) and Standard (for those who like to keep their fingers off the screen). And, really, how much more would we need? We already know from the beta testing that Windows 7 plays just fine with Windows Mobile.

But here's a twist: Will Windows 7, which save for the multiple versioning has gotten mostly rave reviews, kill off the fledgling mobile companion market? We've seen from jkOnTheRun how well Windows 7 runs on netbooks. Between that and what we're hoping to see with Microsoft's new cloud services, will there be any room left for a devices that doesn't do it all? And as we saw in our Redfly vs. MSI Wind smackdown, is there any room for that now?

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Samsung Propel is back - with Windows Mobile

The last time we saw the Samsung Propel it was sporting just a feature-phone OS, with Windows Mobile nowhere to be found. Now, the Boy Genius has spied an updated version with rearranged hardware buttons and a new keyboard. And it's now the Propel Pro. Yep, another "Pro" phone.

There's also Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard, that optical joystick we just love — and that's about all for now. Now word on price, release date, all those little details.

Anyone getting that special feeling in their tummy over this?

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On the heels of the news that Windows Mobile out sold iPhone during the third quarter of 2008, we are know learning that the WM platform is preferred for most enterprise applications. According to statistics from Evans Data's Wireless Development Survey (registration required to access the report), the number of developers that plan to build enterprise apps for Windows Mobile surpasses those that are focusing on Apple iPhone by 40%.

John Andrews, CEO of Evans Data, states

“Largely, this is a matter of Windows being a more mature platform while Apple has only been in the market a relatively brief time. It should be noted that during the past year, while Windows has remained flat in terms of adoption, Apple has increased three-fold, thus closing the gap,”

The introduction of Windows Mobile 6.5 next month at the Mobile World Congress and the potential release of a fully functional application store, should address the concerns of flatness and keep the gap from closing too much.  We point that out because, well, Redmond Developer News definitely points out the glass-half-empy side of the report, noting that .Net development has seen some reduction since the iPhone came out.  As with political polls, sometimes the trendlines are more important that the numbers.

[VIA: Mobiletopsoft.com and News.Softpedia.com]

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Adding fuel to the fire that is the rumor of Motorola getting/not getting out of the Windows Mobile business, the South Florida Business Journal reported over the weekend that the big M is laying off 77 workers from its Plantation facility by the end of the first quarter. Also, "The company said it will no longer conduct new Windows mobile development at the facility."

Needless to say, that's not good news for 77 employees, and we certainly with them and their families the best. But we're not quite ready to sound the death knell for Windows Mobile on Motorola just yet (though we've got our finger on the trigger, given the bigger picture). But we just don't know Moto's intentions. If it's scaling back on Windows Mobile, then scaling back the division would be in order. But scaling back isn't the same as killing off.

So, we'll keep our fingers crossed that Moto's still got some WinMo magic up its sleeve. But time's running short, and we're going to need more than just another Q variation to keep us interested.

Via Electronistawmpoweruser

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Everyone is raving about the sales the iPhone is making and it deserves its props, but its still not putting up Windows Mobile numbers. In fact, during the third quarter of 08 apple only shipped about 4.4 mill iPhones while Windwos Mobile put out a healthy 5 mil.  Now, part of the the drop in the iPhone sales is that they may have finally reached all the markets they hadn't yet with the iPhone 3G, so they may be coming close to some kind of geographic saturation. 

It's still a close race, but then again close only counts in horse shoes and hand gernades -- not bragging rights. Will Windows Mobile be able to maintain its lead? We'll have to see if WM 6.5 can stir up some excitement -- but frankly even though we know it's software that makes a phone good, we're guessing the average consumer still looks to hot new hardware -- so both Microsoft and its manufacturers will have to do their part.   via mobiletopsoft 
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So it seems like a whole bunch of people got themselves into a tizzy over the recent New York Times piece that said Microsoft was scaling back the number of Windows Mobile phones. Us? Not so worried. We always figured it was a quality-over-quantity move, and not that Microsoft was losing interest in the mobile market.

Still don't believe us? TamsPPC [via] got 'hold of Microsoft Austria and heard back from the Mobility group:

We are always working on new versions of the OS and always looking for ways to improve our products with our partners. Microsoft will be focusing on building out the quality of the Windows Mobile experience, investing more in working with its partners to ensure the best hardware-software integration. While this may result in fewer phone models, Microsoft will continue working with our partners to innovate on the Windows Mobile platform.

The MS statement goes on to say that The New York Times piece was just plain inaccurate in its implication, and that "Todd Peters stated that Microsoft would be focusing on building out the quality of the Windows Mobile experience."

There you go. Quality over quantity. Or, as we like to say around here,

Choosy moms choose Windows Mobile.

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The rumors of the untimely demise of Windows Mobile over at Motorola appear to be false. We've been hearing grumblings that Motorola was planning on cutting their development teams in half and ditching Windows Mobile for Android.

But in an interview with Computerworld.com, Brian Viscount, Motorola's Vice President of Marketing for Mobile Enterprise Computing (some title), insisted that the recent news of Windows Mobile's demise at Motorola were false. He stated Microsoft's enterprise division, "remains 100% committed to Windows Mobile".

The comments were made during an interview about Motorola's new Snap-on Mobile Payment devices that work on their enterprise-class MC-70 and MC-75 wireless handhelds, which happen to be powered by Windows Mobile. The wireless handhelds are used in retail/commercial locations to track inventory, set pricing, ordering stock and with the snap-on attachment they can be used to accept payments for merchandise.

So there is joy in Mudville tonight as it appears that Motorola will not be ditching Windows Mobile.  Now if we can only dispel the EOL rumors for the Q Series.

[VIA: wmpoweruser.com]

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Yep, you read that right. Microsoft apparently is planning to scale back the number of devices it puts Windows Mobile on. And this really isn't that surprising and almost definitely is a move in the right direction.

The New York Times reports that Microsoft is planning a "major announcement" next month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, so we'll likely get more details then. For now, here's what Todd Peters, VP of Marketing for Windows Mobile, told the Gray Lady.

The reason that Microsoft is limiting the number of phones with the operating system is because, he said, the company does not want to have its efforts diluted over too many devices.

“I’d rather have fewer devices and be more focused,” he said. That way “we get better integration” between phone and operating system.

This really makes sense to us. We've ranted talked about how AT&T in particular has too many Windows Mobile phones to pick from, and the NYT story spells it out — there are 140 phones that currently run Windows Mobile. There is, in fact, too much of a good thing. Concentrating on a smaller number of outstanding devices definitely should be better in the long run for the platform, and for Microsoft in general. Sure worked out well for these guys.

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WMExperts Podcast 14 - Diamond, WCDMA

Dieter's not going solo every other week anymore, Malatesta has joined in. This week we discuss the news and focus on what exactly WCDMA is and why it matters to both carriers, manufacturers, and -- yes -- you. Listen in!

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