For those using custom ROMs, the familiarity with Windows Mobile 6.5.3 should be quite high, as folks have been using builds from this branch since last summer. But for the majority of we assume what has changed in 6.5.3 won't be as clear, so we've thrown together this little overview guide to explain.

While the changes aren't as big as say 6.1 to 6.5, Windows Mobile 6.5.3 is pretty significant, especially in the case of the UI layout, which hasn't been changed in nearly 10 years (we're looking at you Start menu). Capacitive support is also important.

The bigger point is though is this: Windows Mobile 6.5.3 represents one of the fastest Windows Mobile revisions we have seen from Redmond. After just four months from WM6.5's release, an upgrade is available to OEMs which have begun to roll it out on new devices, including the just-announced Sony Aspen.  They did this while another team is hard at work on working on their next generation OS, Windows Mobile 7.  

Far from abandoning support for this soon-to-be-legacy OS, Microsoft has ramped up development, in fact we believe there will be a Winodws Mobile 6.5.5 at some point.

Sure, for some it's too little, too late.  Fair enough. But we're still glad to see Microsoft putting all of their energy into this platform for what seems like the first time.

After the jump, we'll gloss over the change-log for WM6.5.3 ...

We should note that not even Microsoft considers this a major update--which is why they are not doing any public launches or press releases on the matter, so lets keep this in perspective.

Ease of Use

  • Capacitive touchscreen support
  • Platform to enable multi-touch
  • Touch controls throughout system (no need for stylus)
  • Consistent Navigation
  • Horizontal scroll bar replaces tabs (think settings>system>about screen)
  • Magnifier brings touch support to legacy applications
  • Simplified out-of-box experience with fewer steps
  • Drag and drop icons on Start Screen

Browser Performance

  • Page load time decreased
  • Memory management improved
  • Pan & flick gestures smoothed
  • Zoom & rotation speed increased

Quality and Customer Satisfaction

  • Updated runtime tools (.NET CF 3.5, SQL CE 3.1)
  • Arabic read/write document support
  • Watson (error reporting) improvements and bug fixes

Our thoughts?  

We actually really like 6.5.3.  The OS feels much more finger-friendly, especially on WVGA devices like the Touch Pro 2.  Navigation is easier, the new address book makes more sense, drag-n-drop on the Start Menu should have always been there and overall it is quite fast. Mobile IE is still ... well, it's getting better, but it's not anything amazing.

One could argue that WM6.5 should have been this version and there is some truth to that notion. However, Microsoft has committed to incremental updates for 6.5, and we're glad to see them keeping their word.

Noticeably absent is the threaded email in Outlook (see here) which we are convinced is part of the 6.5.5 build, yet another update due out sometime this year.

Below are some images to represent some of this enhancements: