Could Office 2010 Boost Windows Mobile 7?

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Office 2010 has a mobile version – and it could be the making of Windows Mobile, says Nicholas Kolakowski

I’ve previously written how Office will be ported onto Windows Phone 7 via the Office “hub” of that upcoming smartphone OS.  But people using Microsoft phones will get access to it sooner.

Before Windows Mobile 7 is released, users of touch-screen-enabled Windows Mobile 6.x phones will have access to Office Mobile 2010, which is downloadable from Microsoft’s Windows Marketplace for Mobile. The software’s free for anyone who already has an earlier version of Office Mobile installed. It draws on SharePoint Workspace Mobile for document sharing, and allows users to view – as well as perform some light edits on – Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint documents.

It’s going to be a heavy processor load

As with Office Web Apps (which will roll out in June), the emphasis in Office Mobile 2010 is on stripped-down functionality; if you want a quick read-through of your document before a big presentation, the software will probably suit you fine.

I can’t help but look at these images, though, and think about the rapid pace at which the mobile-applications space is evolving. Windows Phone 7’s Office Hub basically runs even this updated Office Mobile 2010’s user interface into the ground.

Will that help persuade some current Windows Mobile users to upgrade their smartphones to Windows Phone 7 come the end of the year? Or will the dichotomy between their current, nonupgradable device and the shininess of Windows Phone 7 be so stark, so total, that they depart in a huff for an Android device or an iPhone?

Your policy may prevent you

For many business users, it probably won’t matter. If your company is running Windows Mobile, and your IT administrator decides it isn’t quite time for an upgrade, you might as well resign yourself to the device in your briefcase.

In which case, Office Mobile 2010 will give you the functionality you need to conduct daily tasks. As the end of 2010 comes closer, though, the scope of Microsoft’s mobile gamble will come sharply into focus: Will current Windows Mobile users stick with their old devices, hop to Windows Phone 7 or outright leap to another type of smartphone entirely? Will Android or iPhone users be tempted to migrate to Windows Phone 7, despite the continuing evolution of Android and the slew of new features coming with iPhone OS 4?

The answers to those questions will determine whether Microsoft regains some traction in the mobile space, or becomes an also-ran.

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