The eternal wait is almost over. With Mobile World Congress set to kick into full gear on February 15 and Steve Ballmer now slated to host a press conference “to discuss Windows phones,” Windows Mobile 7 looks like it might finally be ready to break cover. Wondering what’s in Ballmer’s magic cauldron? Before Microsoft lifts the lid and shows us the stew that’s been simmering for well over two years, check out our roundup of leaked facts, rumors and probably some downright fabrications that have shaped our impression of what’s to come.
It’s coming in late 2010.
Even if Microsoft shows off its darling new operating system on Monday, don’t expect to run out and grab a phone with it until summer comes, goes, and the leaves on the trees have turned gold. In a Q&A session at the Connect! technology seminar in London, Microsoft UK head of mobility spilled the beans that Windows Mobile 7 has been slated for a “late 2010” release. If that weren’t enough, LG has gotten even more specific, mentioning to a French blogger that it would release its first WinMo7 device in September.
Even indirectly, Microsoft has made it very clear that its Zune crew and Windows Mobile folks will be getting very cozy for this version of Windows Mobile. Job listings seeking software engineers who could work with both teams pretty much confirm the collaboration, but beyond that, we have no idea how much Zune DNA will make it over to WinMo. It wouldn’t be surprisingly to see the Zune’s desktop software become the standard interface for Windows Mobile as well, or for a fully functional Zune player to crop up within the OS, the same way the iPhone offers the same music interface as the iPod Touch.
It will not replace Windows Mobile 6.5.
Microsoft has always avoided calling Windows Mobile a “stop gap” solution to keep buyers satiated while they wait for Windows Mobile 7. We always assumed this was a PR move to keep it from looking like the glossed-up garbage it really was, but some rumors suggest that Windows Mobile 6.5 will actually stick around after 7 shows up. According to DigiTimes, WinMo 6.5 will act as a “budget” OS for low-cost hardware, similar to the way Windows XP hung around on netbooks even after Windows 7 took over the main show.