Earlier in September, Microsoft revealed that the first batch of smartphones running Windows Mobile 6.5 would start shipping on October 6. Since then, we've already learned the identities of some of the devices, including the HTC Touch2 and the Sony Ericsson Xperia X2. LG said it will introduce three new Windows Mobile phones in the next few weeks, and Samsung has revamped its Omnia line with Windows Mobile 6.5. Not a bad showing, but it looks like it's only the beginning.
According to Benjamin Tan, senior director of the GCR Mobile Team Unit at Microsoft China, there will more than 30 smartphones running on Windows Mobile 6.5 by the end of 2009. Tan told a group of reporters that the devices would come from more than 15 handset manufacturers. In addition to the companies mentioned above, HP, Acer, and Toshiba have voiced their support for Microsoft's mobile OS as well as carriers worldwide, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, Vodafone, and Telus.
In fact, Verizon Wireless has already confirmed that it will offer a WM 6.5 upgrade for the HTC Touch Pro2 by the end of the year, and Sprint has alluded to doing the same for its version of the smartphone. AT&T is also rumored to be getting its own version of the Touch Pro2 under the Tilt 2 name as well as the HTC Pure (aka HTC Touch Diamond2).
While the merits of Windows Mobile 6.5 have yet to be seen in real-world testing, it's still nice to see a new crop of devices added to the mix. Microsoft has been noticeably absent during a busy summer where Apple, Palm, and Google dominated the headlines.
While well-known as a business-friendly platform, Windows Mobile has been criticized for its sluggishness and unintuitive user interface and the Windows Mobile 7 delays don't help, but in the meantime, Microsoft hopes the new touch-friendly interface, improved Internet Explorer Mobile Web browser, and additional services (My Phone backup service and Windows Marketplace for Mobile) of WM 6.5 will lure in more consumers. Microsoft will also start selling the handsets under the "Windows Phone" brand instead of Windows Mobile.