Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Recap

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:

Phil Nickinson

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

  • Do you think we will ever see any official OEM (VZW???) updates for our TP2's with the newer versions? Or will we have to use cooked roms only? One reason I ask, is that on a few roms I have tried (and did like a lot), I was no longer able to get my VZ Navigator to install, nor was I able to re-download it again because I could not get to the special VZW web page anymore. Both seem to look for some "flag" or certificate to recognize the phone and "mate" with it.
  • Interesting. My gut would suggest *no*, there won't be a further update for the TP2 on Verizon to add 6.5.3. Still, Verizon could do it. It really depends on demand, popularity and how fast Seven rolls out to replace the TP2 i.e. a TP3.
  • How about the Imagio? Or are there too few of us to bother?
  • If think if you want 6.5.3 sometime before Fall you'll be going with custom roms. It's possible we could see something from VZW, but it won't be anytime soon.
  • The TP2 just had an update for 6.5 so don't expect it to get another update for a while. The Imagio on the other hand has not had any updates since it came out in Oct 09 who knows what HTC has in mind for Verizon. I'm sure we will see something before too long, but honestly there are no dates in mind yet. This from an Imagio using tech support agent.
  • Hey! I don't know where to post this, but Windows Mobile 7 details here and they do NOT sound good:
  • Thanks for the link...though it was very disappointing read...thnkx...DAMN...i have been using windows mobile since one of my first phones...this sucks!!! AHHHH!!!!!!!! sorry needed to let that out...ok i feel a tad bit better...:(
  • I wonder what it's like to be a Microsoft software developer on Windows Mobile: putting in a lot of effort to update an operating system when almost no service provider will be offering their work to customers! I would be really disheartened. Maybe the saving grace is that the development efforts are wasted as the technology needs developing and the code experience can be rolled into future versions. On Verizon, the Touch Pro 2 and Windows Mobile 6.5 and 6.5.3: It's disappointing that Verizon is still selling phones with WM 6.1, long after WM 6.5 has been released by Microsoft and HTC (and adopted by Verizon in the form of an "upgrade") for the TP2. Yes, the tools are there to download and install the upgrade, but why keep selling the TP2 with WM 6.1 installed??? I disagree with Malatesta who thinks that demand might sway Verizon to update the TP2 with 6.5.3. In my experience over the last few years, Verizon is fairly deaf to customer "demand". They seem to do only what they want to do, when they want to do it, customer demand be damned. It would really be a "win" for customers and Microsoft if they could deliver these updates to customers as they roll out, without ANY filtering or interference by the service providers. Maybe that will all happen with WM 7. Then again, I'm not holding my breath!
  • Oops, meant to say that the "development efforts are NOT wasted ..."
  • You see, the major problem for me on VZW, and most likely the others too (Sprint, AT&T, etc), is the damn OEM throwing in their OWN tweaks! I cannot install the VZ Nav program from a saved cab, nor am I able to be recognized on the special VZW web page to try and install it if I am on any rom but the OEM rom. Hell, once awhile back when on the stock 6.1 rom, just installing that "clean" collection of tweaks cab even broke the access to that special VZW apps web page! And I spent hours with VZW tech support, and could not get either to work. There must be some hidden certificate or "flag" somewhere that says "hey, I am a VZW rom". And if it is not seen, you are SOL. Even the (quite excellent and stable) Mighty roms with the special OEM provisioning packages won't work with these either. Total frustration, argh! What should have been done from the start, is Microsoft being in CONTROL of the updating process, along with HTC (and other mfgr's), and forcing the OEM's to stay current - just like they do with the PC world. And if the OEM wanted to have special tweaks (like Dell or HP PC/laptops), then do so WITHOUT prohibiting needed OS updates from MS as they come out. What would happen if all the different OEM PC's could not update to all the monthly important security leak updates? Whoa!!! Wide open holes for any hacker. So why the hell can't it be done to our phones? Sheesh. Sadly, perhaps there IS a lesson to be learned with the Apple iPhone? Only Apple makes them, and they are in control of the OS on it. New OS? BAM, on it goes.
  • Hello
    You have given good information about Windows Mobile 6.5.3 and it seems very easy to use it.Features are also good.Thank you very much for this informative post.
  • From comments here and in other blogs, I think WM users are finally starting to get it. WM's problems aren't technological; it's how Microsoft handles the OS, like support, or lack thereof for legacy devices, that's the issue. Microsoft approach hasn't radically change since the original Compaq iPAQs.
  • Any news on when Microsoft is releasing wm 6.5.3 or wm 6.6? What's with the delay as yet several proposed release dates missed, makes Microsoft look a laughing joke compared to the competition. Kind of tired of reading about this pie in sky, over hyped, wm 7.
  • It is a little surprising that we haven't seen any official releases on 6.5.3. Maybe we'll hear something next week at MIX10.
  • Where is this WM 6.5.3 Capacitive support for the likes of HTC HD2? Absolutely no credible update when this will be released. Looks like MS are having development issues with this as well. Considering following others and installing the unofficial versions.
    Definately will be my last WM phone - even if wm 7 flies like a bird (or more a flying pig)