updated 09:15 am EDT, Tue October 20, 2009
Win Mobile update revamps controls
Although Microsoft has only just released Windows Mobile 6.5 on shipping phones, the company is already readying a noticeable fix to add many major touch elements to the platform, unofficial previews of interim builds show. A 6.5.1 update appearing in test versions has completely dropped the top-mounted Start menu and instead has one at the bottom with a button much easier to hit with a finger than before. Many of the other context-sensitive buttons, checkboxes and radio buttons have also been made larger.
A new contacts app noticed by i started something also shows Microsoft taking some of these efforts into specific apps with much larger, touchscreen-ready areas to select or edit phone and e-mail data.
The changes, which appeared as early as August, suggest that Microsoft had rush-released the original 6.5 and that the company is concerned about the fate of the platform in between the early October release and Windows Mobile 7. The future major release isn't due until the second half of 2010 and leaves a sizable gap for more touchscreen-native platforms like Android and OS X iPhone to gain market share. It's not known how widely available 6.5.1 will become.
Microsoft's conservative design changes have also led to many of its partners increasingly replacing parts of Windows Mobile with their own interfaces, such as the HTC HD2 not only incorporating a heavily modified touch UI, Sense, but grafting in multi-touch input that Microsoft itself won't add until Windows Mobile 7. [images via OSNN]