Ahead of next month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the rumor mill is swirling once again about Microsoft's Windows Mobile 7 operating system and a possible Zune phone based on it.
We've been here many times before. I first wrote about a Windows Mobile phone with Zune functionality back in February 2008, and thought the company might unveil it at CES 2009. It's more than a year later, and there's still no official word from the company on Windows Mobile 7. Meanwhile, Windows Mobile has lost market share, Android is coming on strong, and Apple and RIM aren't exactly laying back. What can Microsoft possibly do to regain ground?
The latest rumors center around a couple of stories that posted Monday on WMExperts and MobileCrunch. Financial analysts are also getting into the act with their own guesses.
The WMExperts story says there will be two Windows Mobile 7 OSes, one for businesses and one for consumers.
According to the story, the business version will continue along the same lines as the current Windows Mobile OS: it will be available for a wide range of hardware, and operators and handset makers will be allowed to customize it with their own user interfaces. The consumer one, or Media Edition, will be based on the Zune HD user interface, will include gaming and multimedia functions, and will be tightly locked to particular hardware specs.
The MobileCrunch story doesn't mention two editions, but claims that Windows Mobile 7 won't be backward-compatible with prior versions, and that developers will have to rewrite their apps.
I think both stories contain a germ of truth. So back to the question: what are we going to see from Microsoft at Mobile World Congress? Here are my predictions. (I haven't been briefed, so I'm free to speculate.) … Read more