Windows Mobile 6 Apps Won't Be Compatible With Windows 7

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News Posted: Mon, Mar 8 2010 3:13 PM
There's been a fair amount of chatter surrounding Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7, but thus far the software developer has been reluctant to reveal much in the way of details. On Friday, Microsoft's partner group manager for Windows Mobile, Charlie Kindel, announced via blog entry that developers of current or hypothetical future Windows Mobile apps will need to plan to transition to either Silverlight or XNA. Silverlight is Microsoft's Flash competitor (whether or not it actually competes is open to debate); XNA is a standardized set of game authorship tools meant to streamline the programming process and increase developer efficiency.

Microsoft doesn't want anyone thinking that it plans to abandon Windows Mobile 6 users, however. "To be clear, we will continue to work with our partners to deliver new devices based on Windows Mobile 6.5," Kindel wrote. "[We] will support those products for many years to come, so it’s not as though one line ends as soon as the other begins."

If developers are a tad dubious of such statements, Microsoft has only itself to blame. While Microsoft's history of software support is quite good, some of the company's mobile assurances haven't exactly panned out. Back before it launched the Zune, Microsoft sunk a huge amount of time and money into persuading various device/cell phone manufacturers to adopt Microsoft's own brand of Windows Media-based DRM (and thereby earn a "Plays For Sure" logo".


Windows Phone 7 isn't just a better product; it makes children happy. You want to make children happy, don't you?

Plays For Sure never took off with consumers but MS gathered a fair number of partners right up to the day when it announced that the original Zune would use DRM—but not PfS. This effectively broke compatibility between PfS devices and Zunes and the standard was folded into the "Certified For Windows Vista" program shortly thereafter. The Windows Mobile 6.5 Marketplace isn't large and it can't be generating much revenue—and that means MS won't keep it alive one jot longer than it might have to in order to satisfy contractual obligations with handset manufacturers.

Microsoft remains mum on whether or not any Windows Mobile 6/6.5 handsets on the market will be able to upgrade to Windows 7. Our guess is that most phones won't be eligible for an upgrade. To be fair, this isn't just up to Microsoft—carriers and cell phone manufacturers would both have to sign on to any upgrade plan. This is less about evil, greedy, corporations and more about the work required to re-validate old hardware on a new operating system and ensure that it ran as well or better as Windows Mobile 6/6.5. We could all be happily surprised come the end of the year but we'd recommend against buying any cell phone now thinking that you'll automatically be able to upgrade it later.
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rapid1 replied on Mon, Mar 8 2010 6:20 PM

This is an absolutely stupid move by M$ and that's all I have to say on this matter absolutely idiotic, to just give market share away which is exactly what there doing.

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Devhux replied on Mon, Mar 8 2010 8:39 PM

@rapid1 I disagree with you. Microsoft has lost quite a lot of marketshare because they haven't kept up with other smartphone platforms. They needed to do something, and a complete re-write of Windows Mobile was the only way to accomplish this.

As they stated, devices running 6.5 will be out for quite some time, and who knows? Maybe someone will be able to write an emulation app (like there is on WebOS devices). With a 1GHz CPU as a minimum requirement, emulation should still allow WM 6.5 apps to run at a decent speed.

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3vi1 replied on Mon, Mar 8 2010 9:17 PM

Microsoft accidentally admitted something here: Underneath, their mobile platforms are actually completely different architectures with little in common.

The "Windows" branding on these things is artificial labeling meant to make you associate these products that have no market share with the ubiquitous desktop software.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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Devhux replied on Tue, Mar 9 2010 4:56 AM

@3vi1: In all fairness, Windows Mobile is a descendant of the old Windows CE devices. The original WinCE H/PCs had an interface that looked virtually identical to Windows 95/98. Eventually they modified it to suit a portrait landscape (for Palm-size / Pocket PCs), and then eventually attached a cellular radio. As the software was fairly similar in terms of architecture to the original Windows CE devices, it only made sense to keep the "Windows" moniker.

I could understand it if you were referring to Windows Phone 7 (and yes, if this is the case then my statement above is a moot point). I would have called it Zune Phone / ZuneOS (or similar) since there's nothing really "Windows" about it. Honestly, given the bad rep that Windows Mobile has had, I think this actually would have been a really smart move on their part.

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rapid1 replied on Tue, Mar 9 2010 1:34 PM

I agree Devhux with your Zune idea, that would be very smart. However; I still don't see how they would loose market share if the just upgraded it auto like Android does generally. You retain market share with devices already held, and you have new products that can be sold and advertised for more recognition, as well as keeping your existing base happy.

With this you have no choice but to buy a Win7 mobile device. That is great but there are quite a few competitive devices and platforms right now. So they could and most likely will just loose more market share using this method I think.

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