On Tuesday, Microsoft formally presented Windows Mobile 6.5 to the world. It’s a lightly modified version of the Windows Mobile software that’s been usable but uninteresting for years.
It’s still fairly uninteresting. Oh, the screens are more attractive, it’s more responsive, and there’s an apps store that Microsoft promises will be full of fascinating programs, any day now, but the new version of Windows Mobile by itself is not a big step forward. Some reviewers are, shall we say, unimpressed.
The interesting and overwhelming thing is the sheer number of new phones blasting at us in the next few months. All of the manufacturers and carriers introduced brand new Windows phones today – and that was only a fraction of the estimated thirty new models of Windows phones due before the end of the year.
Many of them will be highly customized to make them look – well, to make them look more like iPhones, basically. The HTC HD2, for example, has greatly impressed the people who have held pre-production models. There’s no way to tell it’s a Windows phone from the home screens, yet it still does the ActiveSync tricks that Exchange users need.
That’s only the Windows phones, which might be the tip of the iceberg. Verizon and Google decided to steal a bit of thunder from Microsoft by holding a press conference the same day to announce they are falling in love. In the next few weeks, Verizon plans to introduce two new phones running Google’s hotly anticipated Android mobile software. What’s more, Verizon will openly support Google Voice on its network, which apparently can save people money over Verizon’s per-minute charges. (I tried to figure out how it would affect the bill for cell phone charges, back when Apple rejected a Google Voice app. It made my head hurt.)
The other manufacturers are not standing still. There will be new Blackberry models and Palm will soldier on with its new models and there will be new non-smartphones at a dizzying rate. It’s all a reaction to the iPhone, of course, and AT&T is making it more attractive all the time – slowly, ever so slowly, but steadily.
Now dry your palms, get comfortable, and settle back, because the same thing is going to happen in two weeks when Windows 7 is released. There is an avalanche of new notebooks and netbooks about to slide down on us. Strap in!