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Windows Mobile 6.5 – A Once-Over Karishma Sundaram | , 6 p.m. Feb. 24, 2009 2009-02-24

Microsoft recently announced the imminent release of their new version of Windows Mobile. Contrary to expectations and rumours circulating in the virtual world, the company prefers to move from 6.0 to 6.5, rather than take a leap directly to 7.0. Reportedly, 7.0 should be releasing in the third quarter of 2010, so for now consumers will have to content themselves with 6.5. 

After the new mobile operating system was demonstrated in Barcelona, at the Mobile World Congress, the CEO of Telstra, Sol Trujillo, announced that the mobile handset had been stolen. The HTC Diamond mobile handset contained not only the as-yet unreleased version of Windows Mobile 6.5, but apparently had a few company secrets. Fearing industrial espionage, Microsoft remotely erased the phone. How they were able to do this is unclear as of now. However, if the remote erasure was possible, the light-fingered individual will be left with a very pretty, but equally useless device. 

However, despite this rather inauspicious start, Microsoft has big plans afoot with the latest release. 

First up, the company is dropping the ‘Mobile’ from the brand Windows Mobile. Frankly, this is rather inconvenient, as it will be constantly confused with the PC operating system. Imagine the difficulty when trying to conduct an Internet search, especially since there is a Windows 7 in the offing as well. 

The design of the operating system is focused on navigation using menu screens. There are three in all: the first is a simple list of all the user’s favourite applications, sorted by the ones used most often. The second menu screen has all the phone’s functions displayed in a honeycomb pattern of hexagonal icon tiles. This screen has all the standard menu icons. The third menu screen is the standby screen, which displays when the phone is locked. This particular menu screen has the bare minimum of icons, mainly displaying information in the form of alerts; for example, how many messages the user has received, or how many missed calls have been received. A rather neat feature is the ability to unlock the phone from the notification right into that specific application. For example, dragging the received messages notification will open the messaging application.

Perhaps the most awaited feature of the new Windows Mobile is the web browser. It is rumoured to be able to handle flash videos much better than that of the iPhone which can't handle them at all, in addition to having full-featured support of HTML. Surprisingly, although the operating system does support it, the browser cannot be controlled with multi-touch technology. It merely uses single and double taps for the basic zooming functions. 

All the new Windows Mobile 6.5 phones will come with a Start button, just like the one on a PC. Pressing the Start key will display all the applications on the phone.

For those looking to get an early jump on the operating system, LG Electronics has announced that their smart phone will be the first one released with the latest Windows Mobile operating system. The LG-GM730 handset builds upon the multiple-menu concept by having a virtual cube. Each side of the cube is a home screen, which is completely customizable and accessible by the merest flick of a finger. The handset was also demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress, and should be arriving in stores shortly.

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