Not to be outdone by all of that iPhone tomfoolery cluttering up the rumor mills, Windows Mobile kicked up some dust today with a few juicy bits of leak/rumor info of its own. We've got Windows Mobile 7, we've got Project Pink (remember that one?) and we've got flagship devices from HTC and LG. Wowsers.
First up is word that WinMo 7 is going to be a major overhaul that looks, feels, and acts very little like the Windows Mobiles of today and yesteryear. While contradictory information is flying around - as it should be in the rumor mill - best I can tell it looks like WM 7 will come in two distinct flavors, neither of which will run very many legacy WinMo apps. I'm not sure how I feel about that last bit, nor how thousands of WM 6 owners will feel if their current software libraries in fact won't run on the new OS, but such is life in the techno fast lane.
According to various sources, tipsters and NinjaConnects (or whatever the kids call them these days), WM 7 will be made available in "Media" and "Business" editions. As John Biggs put it, "Microsoft is about to get all Apple up in this piece," with WM 7, and I'm guessing that means the Media version, which will look, feel and act like a Zune HD with some phone stuff thrown in there for good measure. The Business version will be super stripped down - that is, sanded and primed and ready for HTC Sense and other OEM customizations to be applied.
WMExperts - by way of Engadget - have gotten all wacky and specific in taking going beyond the dual-platform rumors into hardware specifics. Specifically (see what I did there?), they're saying that the Biz Edition will require higher baseline-specs while Media Edition will focus on HD media and networked services integration like Xbox Live and those social sites everyone from John Mayer to Gilbert Arenas can't shut up about. To wit, WMExperts published some specs for two mythological - I mean, rumored - WM 7 Media Edition devices:
Then there's Project Pink, the Zune Phone/Sidekick thingy that I'd all but forgotten about in the past nine months. According to some analyst quoted on some Walt Mossberg-blessed blog, Microsoft is gearing up to pull a Google and launch their own mobile phone as soon as MWC or CTIA of this year. MWC is in, what, four weeks? That's soon! Said analyst said the Microsoft Phone will be ... wait for it ... "Zune-like," and feature a 5MP camera, 720p HD video capabilities, and support for subscription-based music services. Kind of like, you know, every other mid-to-high end phone out there. Well, like everything except iPhone 3GS and its decidedly SD imaging features.
Hey, wait, did you just notice what I just noticed? Windows Mobile Seven Media Edition and Project Pink sound kinda the same? And the "Microsoft Phone" and the HTC Obsession sound kinda the same, too! So either one is the other and the other is the one, or MIcrosoft's gearing up to confuse the bejeezus out of everybody by releasing two new versions of WM 7 and a Zune Phone, with two of those three flavors tasting an awful lot alike.
Hmm ... A totally revamped Windows Mobile 7 sounds like a good thing. A consumer-friendly, media-centric version of WM 7 alongside of a business-centric version made to be skinned by non-MSFT phone makers also sounds like a good thing. But that business about legacy WinMo apps not being compatible with the new platform sounds like a very, very bad thing. For as much as I'm not really a Windows Mobile fan (I see you nodding your head, saying, "No kidding, Noah") I am a fan of competition and consumer choice amongst high-quality offerings in the mobile marketplace.
And so I leave you with a few more quoted words, again from Mr. Biggs, which I really hope don't wind up ringing true:
As for developers, they're kind of pissed. As far as we can tell they're not quite sure they want to take the steps necessary to move over to the new platform. This is a Hail Mary pass and could mean huge changes in the WinMo ecosystem.
Ruh-roh. Say it ain't so, Steve Ballmer. Without developers in tow, you've got nothing. And as awesome as Zune kinda sorta really is, ditching the enterprise for a full-on consumer media WinMo play would be risky business.