I was just chatting with Merlyn3D about the BlackJack II and he wondered, innocently enough, whether or not the BlackJack II would be upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.1. I smacked my forehead - of course it will be upgradable. We know because Microsoft told us so in October.

But WMExperts,” you ask, “Windows Mobile 6.1 is still in the ethereal land of myth and rumor. How could Microsoft have confirmed the upgrade back in October, when 6.1 was but a whispered dream?

We reply: that's some fancy prose there, bub. But check it: at CTIA in October, they announced Microsoft System Center, Mobile Device Manager 2008 (aka MSCMDM). As part of that announcement, they mentioned that it would require “forthcoming versions of WM devices.” “Forthcoming versions,” eh? Sound like WM6.1 to you? Because it does to us.

They also mentioned a couple of devices that would--for sure--be compatible with the device-management software:

  • The Treo 750
  • The BlackJack II

So either the Treo 750 (recently upgraded to Windows Mobile 6) and the BlackJack II have secret settings for MSCMDM or - more likely - they'll require an upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.1. Those were the only two devices named by, er, name; but we also know that HTC, Palm, Motorola, Sprint, and i-mate all announced they'd be on board with MSCMDM at or around launch in the 2nd Quarter of 2008. Nothing shocking there, but good to file away.

So WM6.1 is probably coming. But when? Make a couple (wildly optimistic) assumptions: that both Microsoft and these device managers will be on time; then you should see WM6.1 before Q3 of next year, say by the end of the summer. Why “wildly optimistic?” Maybe you haven't noticed, but Palm got their WM6.0 update for the 750 in just under the wire and Samsung has yet to release the long-promised upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.0 for the original BlackJack. So we aren't going to be placing any bets that Palm and Samsung will get their upgrades out on time.

At least we know WM6.1 running on at least one Q9h somewhere, somehow. Hope, as it tends to do, springs eternal.

Read: CTIA: Liveblogging the Steve Ballmer Keynote - WMExperts