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Windows Mobile 6.6 and the rumor mill

So the big news for today is evidently Microsoft is planning on actually releasing Windows Mobile 6.5.3, which someone is now calling Windows Mobile 6.6.  

Shocker, right?

To recap, Windows Mobile 6.5.x has been in development since last summer. Yes, even before Windows Mobile 6.5  was released, builds of this version were floating around. It recently started to appear on official devices like the TG01. It will feature

So to hear things like:

The company is purportedly so disappointed with Windows Mobile 6.5 sales since launch that the company is rolling out a 6.6 update in February

... makes our head spin. What is the logic here? Microsoft in, what, December decided sales were so awful that they're going to release another OS milestone within 2 months? An OS upgrade that isn't actually intended for a lot of current devices?

We're to believe the same company that cannot get Seven out on time (aka WM7), can now spit out major OS upgrades with a snap of their finger? So they are both crazy fast and crazy slow for OS upgrades. How convenient!

Or perhaps, just perhaps, Microsoft had always planned on releasing WM6.5.x, regardless of sales. That WM6.5.x will be developed even into the Seven life-cycle because Microsoft plans to continue selling that OS on lower-cost devices.

That latter one seems to make the most sense, since it adheres to, you know, basic logic and facts. Why else would Microsoft spend nine months of development on 6.5.x if they never planned to actually release it?

The other rumor is saying Microsoft will be showing 6.5.x off in Barcelona next month instead of Seven. We're going to side with Mary-Jo Foley here of ZDNet and say no, Seven will still be at least discussed, if not flat out shown off and that 6.5.x will have a subtle, quiet roll out instead.

Either way, we'll be in Barcelona to cover the event, so place your bets now on what you think will happen.

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!

35 Comments
  • With the things that Robbie Bach has been saying about how revolutionary the product that they will be showing off and how much it "sets the bar", I have to believe it's going to be WM7. I just don't think that 6.x is a big enough jump (from what I've seen) to be worth the build up that he gave it. Also, the rumors out of Mobius are that people were drooling; which tells me they got glimpses of 7. Or it's possible that this is all wishful thinking.
  • No, not wishful thinking, that's my impression exactly as well.
  • One thing to note is that there are a few different element to WM7.
    1. The hardware : I think HTC HD2 is a step in right direction but I expect some really interesting devices to come out by early next year.
    2. Software on device: This will be interesting as this has been developed ground up. I expect people to be surprised by the UI component.
    3. Services: I expect to hear a lot more about this at MWC. This is as important as any other component and even more so. The services which MS will be able to provide on phones will be differentiating factor. I expect major push here.
    4. Development: Silverlight and development tools and capabilities for WM7 is again going to be interesting and something MS know how to do right. So at MWC some part of above will be discussed. I dont expect them to show us what WM7 will look like. 9 months is way too ahead of time for that. All said and done it will in an interesting year.
  • rohit - i agree. nicely stated! so, different elements can be leaked at different times.
  • I think Silverlight will play a major part in WM7. I think MS will use it as the core app building api for WM7 apps and services and hell, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the whole WM7 UI is built on silverlight 4.
  • I think that pretty much sums it up. Services are where Google has a leg up right now, and development is where WinMo is losing ground to iPhone (both tools and APIs). If Microsoft could sew those aspects up, all while creating a better UI for the end user; they would have a major player.
  • You gotta love the rumor mill. All this confusion started when some not-so-informed bloggers mistook Maldives (6.5.3) for WM7, and then the speculation went rampant. I saw Maldives in Redmond months ago and it was always planned for release as an incremental finger-friendly update when it became apparent that there would be capacitive WM devices in the market prior to WM7. To believe the geniuses at Electronista is to assume that Microsoft *knew in August* that WM6.5 was going to tank and psychically discerned what the problems would be -- and started a program to fix them -- months before 6.5 actually dropped. If that's the case, I'm going to Robbie Bach next time I need some lotto picks. He's clearly got the fortune-teller thing going on. Windows 7 is pretty cool, though. :)
  • yeah I couldn't agree more Mal.. there are some ridiculous articles going around, mostly written by some sad little kid in his bedroom. I've now come to the conclusion that anyone who claims "fail" and makes stories up about an operating system they have no clue about is: A) an idiot
    b)a pre-pubescent idiot. and should be treated with the disdain they deserve.
    Don't report them anymore, give them no publicity, let them fester in their own moroseness ! I'm hoping we see winmo7 in Barcelona (grr you're going grrr), jealous me? :p
    But the only sensible course will be to sit and watch what MS are going to show us.
    i
  • Do you think Microsoft can survive on the mobile front if they delay WM7 to next year? I don't think so.. if WM7 devices don't roll out in 2010 then i'm afraid it could be too late for Microsoft, Android devices and iPhone are going strong with a lot of momentum, Microsoft can't afford to miss this one...
  • MS will survive and learn... Just like everything else they've done. It's silly when we look at what they do and go - epic fail - only to see it in another form later... The most successful Windows platform in history was 3.x... They followed that with what? ME? BAD BAD BAD! Then they bounced back with a much better system in XP... Then a complete and total epic failure with Vista right after it... Now, everyone seems to agree that they have bounced back with Win 7... What 'the next one needs' is to be revolutionary. It can't do what the Iphone does, because it already does it. It can't be open source like Android, because it already does it. It can't even just be a 'Zune Phone' because it's too close to having been done. Software for devices is all about finding out what people want and making it work. Apple will tell you this over and over. The biggest thing is going to be what can WinMo 7 do to inspire us to want it. If they can do that, they will comeback in a matter of months with the way people flip phones right now.
  • Point of correction: Win 3.x was followed by Windows 95 which was followed by Windows 98, which was followed by ME...
  • OOOPS... Forgot the whole 95/98 step in there... lol
  • Whatever Microsoft puts out should be welcomed with open arms. When Palm, Apple, or Google drop an upgrade even if it's just a point release everybody goes nuts saying how great it is. The problem with Microsoft is that it can't seem to be able to push out the new updates/upgrades out to carriers and devices properly. This issue goes back to the begging of Windows Mobile. If every window mobile device got the new releases as soon as they were released Microsoft would be called cutting edge geniuses. Many new Windows Phones are still waiting for official WM 6.5 upgrades while 6.5.1 and 6.5.3 came and went . Now there is talk of 6.5.6 which is basically vaporware because it will be almost impossible to get it officially on our devices.This issue was supposed to be fixed in WM 6 but here we are in 2010 talking about the same problem. If the can't resolve the upgrade and update path even Windows Mobile 7 will fail. No matter how amazing it is.
  • I think there's actually a major pardigm shift occuring within the Microsoft Entertainment and Devices division. WinMobile seems to be in or around 3rd place which isn't THAT bad. 6.5.3 is bad because it several months late, but it does most things it should. App store needs some help and is beyond a valid critique. But OneApp is mentioned throughout their job listings. Seriously, anyone that reports and has the time should go through these jobs listings. We've seen them brought up, but no one has put them all into context. http://www.microsoft-entertainment-jobs.com/ Of course, the vast majority of them are typical general boilerplate descriptions, but you get the feeling that MS, indeed, takes mobile and communications quite seriously. All of us that have been look around and have seen the patents coming from Redmond (do a search)around mobile and seom of the stuff coming out of Microsoft Research regarding mobile and sensors get the feeling that something is up. Microsoft Careers website shows a job in Bing for sensors and social networking... seems to me to be somewhat related to EE&D division too. Anyways, regardless of what is being said, Mobius rumors, Job listings (really read the descriptions), Pioneer Studios, What Bach Said (WBS) etc etc make me believe that it will be a crazy year regarding MS Mobile. enjoy
  • DAM: I feel like that too. I've watched a lot of tv and read alot across the universe. Apple and Google are the darlings, so that is some additional hurdles for MS. Notwithstanding marketshare, MS could be classified in some sense as being an 'underdog'. MS benefited with sentiments like "MS getting it's groove back" with Natal, Win 7, Zune HD etc. MS certainly will want to have that feeling for 2010. There's tremendous pressure on Steve Ballmer... they may be in the mindset to roar back. Pay attention to GameFest, Mix, WMC, Mix, E3 and maybe Pax.
  • I'm sort of coming out of left field with this one, but I think 6.6 is only the stop gap between a disappointment in 6.5 and the revolutionary 7... There is nothing different in 6.5.3/6.6 that we haven't seen before. Yes, finger-friendly buttons, but honestly, everyone is covering up 6.5 the same way they covered up 6.1 before it. There have been rumors about MS carrying 2 OS's going forward - rumored to be 6.5 for the lighter user and 7 for the power user. This doesn't look like it is going to be true. All the indications show that 7 is coming in 2 versions: The Standard edition targeted at the Professional crowd. SE features a revamped Windows Media Player, Office 10 and a new IE with higher security for accessing HTTPS site. It also rumored to feature full Win 7 document integration using remote access (only with Win 7) and a few other nifty tricks for the business person on the go. The Media edition, is targeted at the 'fun crowd' that wants the ZuneHD with a phone. The ME phones will have a more powerful media player with full 1080p video recording and playback, integration of the MS Mediaroom, XBox Live integration for Facebook and Twitter... And... Wait for it... ZUNE Music integration... So, from the rumor mill to the final versions, we will see what actually comes to pass. Overall, I think alot of people are getting 1/2 the story - as I am as well, I'm sure... But for those saying that 6.5 and 7 are going to co-exsist - I think they are wrong. Now there have been some rumors that 7 isn't a great leap forward and the real change is going to happen with 8... The difference being noted is probably the Standard vs. Media formats... But again, time will tell... In the short-term, lets all have fun dreaming of what the next OS will do differently and drool at the thought of it coming this year instead of next.
  • simply put - i believe "catch-up" features will be released in point releases like this. holding back on the game changing developments until Apple is commited to its next release. my guess is this strategy can last for a few months, but will need to be abandoned by april, or may.
  • I hope this 6.6 update is really true. Since, it's pretty certain that my TP2 won't get WM7, it'd be nice to get something. I actually like the few changes MS did make w/ 6.5. But, they need to do a little more than just a new today, lock, and start screen. Titanium is nice, but they need to go a little bit deeper in changing the look of everything. If an update really does happen for the TP2, it'd be great if HTC threw in an upgrade for TF3D/Sense, too.
  • Most of the features found in 6.5.3/6.6 are already in custom kitchens.
  • Standard nomenclature would be if it was a bug version only it would be 6.5.x. If they are adding features they they should use 6.6.
  • are you Malatesta going to Barcelona next month or is it only Dieter who is coming? Who do you mean by "we going to Barcelona"?
  • Unfortunately, I won't be going...it'll be Dieter and Phil. Wish I could be there though.
  • Its only an assumption but I am assuming that WinMo 6.5 devices will be upgradeable to 6.6 or whatever iteration of winmo 6.XX in the future. Do we know for sure yet?
  • In theory they could be, but most current devices will be eol by the time it comes to be.
  • Name aside I think phones that would have gotten the stock 6.5 OS will be getting 6.5.3/6.6 or w/e. Look at all the phones shown at CES with the newer 6.5.3 builds, not 6.5. That's like the biggest sign imo. If MS does make it final at MWC then great, that's a good sign that WM7 is on track as well. 6.5.3/6.6 will bring things up and have something MS can toss out to phone makers till WM7 goes final, which I, for now, still believe will be before holiday 2010. My bet is somehwere between Sept-Nov. I don't buy any new dealy to 2011 until MS says so offically.
  • They're upgradeable now. Go to PPCGeeks or XDA and flash a 6.5.3 ROM, they even have ROMs with the build that has threaded Outlook.
  • Yup, even my own |MalROM| features WM6.5.3 w/threaded email. Very nice, if I say so myself, lol. http://forum.ppcgeeks.com/showthread.php?t=102276
  • I have a feeling that since VZW spent 2 months testing 6.5 for the Touch Pro 2 before it dropped it will be end of summer at best before we see an official 6.6 update on VZW if at all. Probably head back to custom roms for a while after some of my favorite cooks get ahold of a final 6.6 build.
  • I think the only major thing that might make a carrier jump from 6.5 to 6.6 is if they discontinue support for Office 2007. Sprint hasn't even gotten a 6.5 to market yet, so I can't imagine any of them wanting to retest a new OS in 2-6 months for a device that will be replaced in a year.
  • Number 1 feature request for WM7: Pushed updates. Cut the carriers and OEMS completely out of the picture! They take too long to get out updates, they have little to no incentive to write them for the devices as they'd rather sell you a new one altogether, and they are loaded with crapware they want you to have. How about, each carrier has a section of the app store where they can list the custom software like "Sprint TV," or "Sprint Music," or "VZ Navigator." Im also one that hopes they wax the non-touchscreen formfactor for WM7. The idea with this is not to capture all segments of the market, but the biggest chunk possible. If you try and capture both non touchscreen and touchscreen you get fragmentation, especially with 3rd party apps.
  • I'm not sure that they can do a true 'push' feature without the content going through a side server somewhere. Apple and BlackBerry are able to do this by placing all your data on a server on their end, then they get notified of the data request and it is forwarded to your phone. Many don't understand that this is due to the fact that your phone's info is held on another server. Microsoft allows push from your exchange settings, but apps aren't supporting that yet. With the Xbox integration, you should be able to work push in to various application platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and others, but I don't believe that MS will abandon their 'exchange only push' for any business applications. They should be continued to be handled on a log-in to server basis (timed login's only)... Again, until we see something resembling a beta build, we just have to guess on this one, but you don't ditch the structure to improve the interface.
  • So, you may have seen this on other blog sites, French Presse Citron website has twittered a rumour that LG will be releasing a WinMo7 device in September. Nice.
  • Hope they update the basic phone functions. Still can't figure out why after so many versions we can't add multiple mobile numbers to the same contact. SMS and mobile number is automatically the same and we can't make them different from each other.
  • I saw in the Maldives Redmond months ago, and it was always planned to release the upgrade for the additional finger.
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