updated 11:20 am EST, Wed November 11, 2009
WM7 to get special test program
Microsoft has sped up the release schedule for Windows Mobile 7 to less than a year after 6.5, a leak hinted today. The company is reportedly set to launch a test program in early 2010, codenamed "Maldives," that will let smartphone makers check the mobile OS against their hardware relatively early. Timing would be such that the OS would reach shipping phones by summer where 6.5 was unveiled this past winter but didn't ship until the fall.
The new OS is primarily expected to add a much more touch-friendly interface that supports capacitive touchscreens, giving Windows Mobile its first native support for multi-touch gestures like those found in some Android 2.0 apps, the iPhone and the Palm Pre. It will also borrow Zune HD interface elements, primarily for media playback.
Much as with Windows 7, Microsoft is accelerating Windows Mobile's release to address a rapidly widening gap between its platform and clear competitors like Apple. Delays in getting Windows Mobile 7 to market led both to the 6.5 update and to many companies creating their own interfaces to mask limitations in the current OS, culminating in the HTC HD2's addition of custom multi-touch and a near-total replacement of most stock Windows Mobile controls. [via WMPowerUser]