Microsoft Unveils Windows Mobile 6

Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled details of Windows Mobile 6, its next generation operating system for smart phones and other mobile devices. The new version of Windows Mobile features an Windows Vista-like UI, enhanced Microsoft Office functionality, and numerous new PC-like features.

"We completed Windows Mobile 6 in November," John Starkweather, a product manager in the Mobile & Embedded Devices division at Microsoft told me during a recent briefing. "Devices based on the new system are in trials now and will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2007." Starkweather noted that Microsoft will announce details about its hardware partners at a later date.

Windows Mobile 6 includes a number of features that were previously available only on full-fledged PCs. "That's really the biggest thing this time around," Starkweather said "There are many more features from the PC available now in mobile form factors." Examples of this kind of functionality include Windows Live capabilities, such as multiple-person instant messaging; the ability to read HTML emails in full fidelity, enhanced Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint functionality, and new security features. The inclusion of Microsoft Office is particularly interesting: Previously, smart phones didn't typically include Pocket versions of these applications.

For the business users who would typically be attracted to such a device, Windows Mobile 6 integrates more closely with Microsoft's server products. You can utilize Exchange Server's Direct Push technologies to automatically retrieve email messages and task, schedule, and contacts synchronizations, and if the device is stolen, administrators can remotely wipe its contents. New to this version: Remote wipe even works from Outlook Web Access (OWA).

I'll have a longer write-up about Windows Mobile 6 in the Windows IT Pro UPDATE newsletter next week, but the improvements to this version look impressive. Hopefully, the devices than run the new system will be as interesting.

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