Microsoft has announced plans to launch a marketing campaign sometime in the next few months to compel mobile telecommunication device users to use Microsoft software to operate those devices. According to early reviews, the new 6.5 version of Windows Mobile offers a few modest upgrades but not enough bells and whistles to improve market share. Blackberry, Microsoft’s chief competitor for mobile business devices, has gained market share by making phones that are much more user-friendly than those running on Windows Mobile are.
Microsoft has been advertising that the new software upgrade would greatly simplify the user experience. Reviewers do say that Windows Mobile devices are a bit easier to use. Removing the need to use a stylus to select and use features, Windows Mobile devices now have icons that are large enough to activate with a finger. Reviewers applaud the new utility and ease of operation, but say that users wishing to browse the Web on their phones will be disappointed with the upgrade.
They point to the lack of a multitouch screen on Windows phones, which would allows users to pinch, pull and otherwise modify their displays to a preferred size like iPhone and Palm Pre users can. To accomplish these tasks, Windows phone users must press buttons and sliders that make for much more cumbersome and less precise controls. Microsoft executive Greg Sullivan said that in internal tests of the new functionality, users were able to complete tasks far more easily with the new version of the software than on any other mobile browser currently on the market. A reviewer with the New York Times disputed that claim.
The Times reviewer also said that in order to connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots, a user must negotiate a three-step decision tree instead of seeking the nearest and strongest nearby signal. He claimed that the biggest difference between devices running the new version of the operating system and devices running an older Windows Mobile is access to an app store only available to users with new phones. More than 20,000 Window Mobile applications are available online, but the app store currently only features 350 with plans to add many more over time.
One benefit that some Window Mobile user find helpful is the My Phone service, which allows users to store the contents of their phone on a password-protected Web site. This allows users an easy way to manage contact lists and other personal data and offers a backup in case the data on a user’s device is somehow lost. This service could be invaluable to users if they should lose their phone. Microsoft offers a $5 app that will give users seven days and several tools to find or lock their lost phone and force the phone to ring even if it is set to vibrate.