Microsoft might be the dominant player in the market for computer operating systems, but the company hasn’t fared so well in the world of mobile phones—especially considering the most popular smartphones on the market are from Apple and RIM, and none of them run Windows Mobile. Now Redmond is looking to try to re-assert its authority in the smartphone space…and it’s starting with an oddly wishy-washy press release promising a new generation of smartphones bearing Windows Mobile 6.5 will launch from mobile operators and phone makers worldwide on October 6.
Part of the new branding: phones with Windows Mobile 6.5 are apparently to be called “Windows phones,” and Microsoft claims Windows Mobile 6.5 will offer a one-stop operating system both for folks looking to get things done with mainstream productivity applications (like mobile versions of it’s Office applications) or meet their social and entertainment needs via video and music capability, tapping into Internet services and social networking, and providing for a customizable interface—and lets not forget Flash Lite support. Windows Mobile 6.5 phones will also be able to connect to Windows Marketplace, Microsoft My Phone services (for syncing music, photos, and other info from phone to Web), along with Windows Live services
“A Windows phone gives people a single phone that works for their whole life, keeping them connected to the people and information they care most about by harnessing the power of the PC, phone, and Web,” said Microsoft mobile marketing corporate VP Todd Peters, in a statement.
Microsoft has kind of a fine line to walk here: it’s only supplying the operating system for these phones, which will be launched by a wide range of manufacturers around the world, including Samsung, Toshiba, HP, HTC, LG, Acer, and Sony Ericsson. Some will be driven by touch screens, some will have QWERTY keyboards; some may be brilliant, but others will probably be lackluster efforts. And while a diversity of offerings in the marketplace means consumers have more options and are perhaps more likely to find a phone that specifically meets their needs, it also has the effect of making Windows Mobile a bit of a lowest common denominator for smartphones…and that means Microsoft will likely still find it difficult to compete alongside vertically integrated s smartphone offerings from the likes of Apple and RIM.