Microsoft Admits Windows Mobile 7 Delays

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

The next version of Windows Mobile is supposed to finally take on the iPhone. By the time it gets here, will anyone care?

Windows Mobile 7, the version that is supposed to finally have enough ability to go up against the Apple iPhone, won’t arrive till late in 2010, according to a Microsoft UK executive.

Windows Mobile 6.5, an interim release, was launched in October, but did not get very positive reviews, and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer reportedly admitted the company had “screwed up” over mobile operating systems, by not launching Windows Mobile 7 in 2009, and allowing Apple and others including RIM, Google and Palm to steal a march on it.

Microsoft has a small share of the smartphone market, which is actually declining even while the overall market for smartphones is growing. leading some to speculate it might do the unthinkable and actually abandon Windows Mobile at some point in the future – though most people dismiss the possibility.

In fact, the delay to Windows Mobile 7 could be even more severe than had been thought, extending to late 2010, according to Microsoft UK head of mobility Phil Moore.

“It has been put back until late next year but it is definitely coming,” Moore told a summit in London hosted by service provider Azzurri, according to a report in Mobile News, which has been picked up widely.

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“It’s true, Apple caught us all napping. It launched something that was very iconic, new and unseen with a very good user interface,” Moore told the meeting, but promised the Windows Mobile 7 would catch up, and play to Microsoft’s customer base in the enterprise: “You’re going to see a lot more on Windows Mobile 7,” he said. “Giving the enterprise users and consumers what they want will be part of Windows Mobile 7. You’ll get flexibility on a much easier touch UI.”

Contacted about the story, a Microsoft spokesman said: “We can’t confirm these comments. We are always working on future versions of Windows Mobile, but we are focusing on the versions which are currently shipping today.”