updated 11:25 pm EST, Mon January 18, 2010
Win Phone UI like Zune, breaks Win Mo 6 apps
Windows Mobile 7, possibly known as Windows Phone 7, could represent a complete break from version 6 if a scoop this evening bears fruit. A developer claims that the new OS is a complete break and mimics that of the Zune HD with phone elements put in. Microsoft's services would run deep and would include not only Xbox Live gaming and social services but even an app store with an "easy" approval process would be onboard.
The change would reportedly be so sharp, however, that it would have the consequence of breaking compatibility with Windows Mobile 6 for all but a "few basic programs," according to the MobileCrunch source. As it should run largely on .NET and Silverlight, developers will have to completely rewrite most software -- a move which risks alienating developers and making some reconsider staying with the platform.
It would be accompanied by strict hardware requirements as well, as companies would have tight limits on their screen sizes as well as the base processor and RAM.
This switch is believed to be part of a conscious move towards replicating the iPhone's media- and games-heavy business model and backing away from Windows Mobile's traditional focuses on business users sheer variety. While another rumor today has Microsoft producing a Business Edition of Windows Phone 7 that would allow more flexibility, the version described here (possibly the Media Edition) would present an 'ideal' experience where hardware and software are closely linked.
Such approaches may be necessary as LG, Motorola, Palm, Samsung and others have backed away from Windows Mobile in its current form to instead use Android and other platforms that are more modern and home-friendly. Whether or not they will be successful is less certain, as Microsoft tried a similar strategy when it abandoned PlaysForSure in favor of the Zune: the player remains one of the larger MP3 player competitors but occupies just a small fraction of the market share of Apple's iPod and is often outshadowed by SanDisk as well.