Microsoft Shows Off Windows Mobile 6.1

Microsoft has officially unveiled Windows Mobile 6.1, the lated version of its operating system for smartphones and other mobile devices. Microsoft claims the new version of Internet Explorer Mobile offers a “desktop-grade” Internet browsing experience—but, perhaps more importantly, that the upgrade will be supported by a wide variety of devices and carriers.

“People want a single phone that’s flexible enough to meet their needs throughout their day, whether it’s connecting to work or your everyday life,” said Microsoft’s president of entertainment and devices Robbie Bach, in a statement. “The innovations we’ve added to our Windows Mobile software ultimately make it easier to manage your world.”

Windows Mobile 6.1 offers a handful of incremental improvements, including improved first-time setup for email and wireless networking, new access to messages and calls from WIndows Mobile’s home screen, threaded SMS messaging, and the ability to flag, delete, or move entire groups of messages. Enterprise users may (or may not!) appreciate that administrators can more easily manage fleets of Windows Mobile devices in ways similar to managing Windows PCs.

The improved version of Internet Explorer Mobile enables users to more easily view full-screen Web pages, and will include support for both Adobe Flash and Microsoft’s Flash competitor Silverlight. Microsoft says the new version of Internet Explorer Mobile should be available to mobile phone partners in the third quarter of 2008, and new phones should start shipping with the improved mobile IE by the end of the year.

Wireless operators and device makers have announced widespread support for upgrading Windows Mobile 6.0 devices to 6.1, including updates to the AT&T Tilt, Sprint Mogul, Samsung BlackJack II, the HTC Touch, the Motorola Q, and the Palm Treo; look for carriers and device makers to start rolling out the new version over the coming months.

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