Microsoft on the verge of releasing Windows Mobile version 2.0

OK… sorry about the inflammatory title, but it really does feel like MS has been coasting since it came out with its first mobile software release. I’ve used Windows Mobile on two Dell Axim revs and two cellphones. Instead of feeling like each new OS revision was an upgrade, it just felt like the same thing with a few more applications included and a few more options in settings. Before that I went through almost every model of the Apple Newton… at least with Newton, each OS update and device update felt like a significant improvement.

Windows Mobile currently has the worst browser in any shipping operating system and made development for mobile web sites or multiplatform mobile development (Rhomobile) very difficult. I’ve had countless customers tell me “no one uses” Windows Mobile so they didn’t want to target it. Lots of people use Windows Mobile every day, but the fact that our customers don’t act on this means MS seriously squandered a multi-year lead in the mobile software market.

Check out a preview of the version 7 OS:

and if you don’t have silverlight installed, go right to the media:

My thoughts as I watched the videos were that they will end up with something similar to Google Android. They’ll continue to have multiple hardware OEM partners, allow for more tweaking of the experience than iPhone, and won’t be hobbled with single-tasking like iPhone. The visual experience looks a bit thin in this preview… it might be inspired by iPhone, but it’s no iPhone.

I look forward to working with the new OS and hope that it really does come through as a serious update to what was a stagnating system. It will be tough for MS to start from zero again since older devices can’t be updated to WM7. I’m not sure when our customers will start noticing that interesting mobile devices out there are running Microsoft software.

So, this finally brings Windows Mobile in line with Web 2.0… another reason to rebrand the product and put a “2.0” in the name :)