On the first day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft unveiled an upgrade to Windows Mobile and announced plans to introduce an Apple like app store for Windows Mobile users.
The upgrade will be released as Windows Mobile 6.5, and will sport a completely new interface and enhanced features such as a more complete internet browsing experience akin to what you’d find on most smartphones today.
Over the past year and a half, Windows Mobile has largely been lost in the shuffle as competing smartphones like the iPhone and BlackBerry Storm have attracted most of the attention. In the process, the market share for Windows Mobile has shrunk dramatically, and Microsoft is now desperately trying to play catch-up.
At the conference on Monday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer noted that Microsoft needs to push Windows Mobile to the next level in order to compete in todays growing smartphone market. “The time has come to do more”, said Ballmer, “we need to take our WIndows Mobile business to the next stage.”
In an effort to better compete with the iPhone and other popular smartphones, Windows Mobile 6.5 will support a new touchscreen interface with a “honeycomb” interface that can be seen below. In addition, Microsoft also announced plans to introduce an app store for Windows Mobile applications. In contrast to the iPhone, Microsoft noted that Windows Mobile users will be able to download applications from the web, while on a desktop computer.
Devices running Windows Mobile 6.5 won’t be available until the second half of 2009.