As companies like Apple and Palm continue to push forward with substantial smartphone features and improvements, Microsoft continues to lag far behind and its latest offering, Windows Mobile 6.5, recently debuted to a nearly universal critical thrashing.
Writing for Gizmodo, John Herrman writes on Windows Mobile 6.5:
I really didn’t want to beat up on WinMo here, because at this point it just feels tired. But man, come on Microsoft, you’re giving me no choice. Windows Mobile 6.5 isn’t just a letdown—it barely seems done.
In the time since Windows Mobile 6.0 came out in February of 2007, Apple has released the iPhone—three times. Palm has created the Pre, with its totally new webOS. Android has come into being, and grown into something wonderful. RIM has created a touch phone and a revamped BlackBerry OS. For these companies, the world has changed.
And Microsoft? They eked out some performance enhancements and a new homescreen in 6.1, and executed a gaudy facelift for 6.5. This is what they’ve done to Windows Mobile. What’s amazing is that in the time it took Windows Mobile 6.1 to lazily morph into 6.5, Microsoft—Microsoft!— designed one of the most spectacular handsets I’ve seen in years, loaded it with brilliant, inspired software, a decent web browser and a fledgling app store. One problem! It’s wasn’t a handset. It was a Zune. I understand the the two platforms aren’t directly comparable, and as is, Zune OS wouldn’t work very well for a smartphone, but it’s a taste of something great. And why on earth does the HD have a better browser than Microsoft’s smartphone OS? It’s almost like the Zune team was trying to embarrass the mobile guys or something. And to their credit, if they’re looking for it, they did.
Matthew Miller, writing for ZDNet, is equally un-impressed with Windows Mobile 6.5:
I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this point release, but I was expecting more than what Microsoft delivered. I expected to be able to place icons where I wanted them on the Start displays, I expected to have finger friendly menus throughout the OS, and I expected some attention to the media player, device search, and more.
I am a fan of Windows Mobile, but find very little added value in this Windows Mobile 6.5 release and would never recommend anyone actually purchase a new device just to get this update on their smartphone. We are going to have to wait and see if Microsoft can pull anything out of the hat in Windows Mobile 7, but with the current schedule of late 2010, most likely slipping into 2011 like this release, I think the T-Mobile Touch Pro2 may be my last Windows Mobile device for quite some time.
And Greg Kumparak of Mobile Crunch bluntly writes that Windows Mobile 6.5 still sucks:
Look – in a market now completely flooded with touchscreens, a huge chunk of which do not tote a physical keyboard, there’s one thing you need to make rock on your handset – or in this case, your OS: typing.
Typing on Windows Mobile 6.5 is an absolute miserable chore. How bad? Every time we sat down to review this thing, we got so frustrated with the keyboard that we had to stop. We. Hate. This. Keyboard. Typing on this keyboard is like sewing with your feet. Even with a stylus (do not even TRY typing without the stylus. You can not. Your fingers will hit every button except the one you intend to hit), an awkward lag between letters and the overall clunkiness made us want to rip out our hair. If nothing else did it, typing in Windows Mobile 6.5 immediately killed the entire OS for us.
Sadly, for Microsoft, people seem to hate almost everything about the latest Windows Mobile release – from the IE browser to the Windows Mobile Marketplace to the UI and straight on down to the fact that you still need a stylus to access some settings.
Windows Mobile 6.5 is largely being positioned as a stop gap measure while Microsoft tries to get Windows Mobile 7 out the door as quickly as possible. By the time that happens (in 2010 or 2011), it may very well be too late, if it isn’t already. By the time Windows Mobile 7 hits store shelves, it’s gonna tout features that devices like the iPhone will have already had for 3 or 4 years.
The frigid response to Windows Mobile 6.5 begs the question – Just what exactly has Microsoft been doing over the past few years to improve its mobile OS? Anything?