Just a week after Windows Mobile 6.5 was announced at Mobile World Congress, Steve Ballmer spoke at a strategic update meeting and said that Windows Mobile 7 was coming in 2010.The complete transcript, Webcast, and presentation of the meeting is under the Feb. 24, 2009, entry in the Recent Events section and here is the direct link to the Word transcript. Here is what Mr. Ballmer had to say: "We've made a nice release announcement last week of Windows Mobile 6.5. We've got Windows Mobile 7 coming next year. We're getting more and more synergy with Windows, so the browser improvements, et cetera, should be quite rapid." I'm a bit surprised WinMo 6.5 was announced last week, given no devices will ship until the fourth quarter of this year. Microsoft typically holds off announcing a new mobile platform until carriers are well into testing and devices are within three to four months of release. Once it was found out 6.5 was being announced at Mobile World Congress, I think most expected devices by late second quarter. This has got to hurt sales of existing devices because, unlike PCs, being able to upgrade to the latest OS on a WinMo device is not a sure thing. In fact, it seems to be a fairly rare thing as many carriers and manufacturers don't fool with providing an upgrade, either free or for a nominal fee, so if someone really wants 6.5, they will buy nothing now. This is in stark contrast to how Apple does it. Users of the original iPhone are still getting OS updates from Apple, which is a model I'd like to see more device manufacturers follow. Now Steve Ballmer has thrown a wrench into the works. Not only do we know 6.5 is out this year, WinMo 7 will be out within 12 months of that. This is a fast release cycle, as most WinMo upgrades are about 18 months apart at best. I suspect there are a lot of people that have just recently purchased a WinMo 6 or 6.1 device that will just hang on to it longer and bypass 6.5. 7.0 is what has been rumored for over a year and 6.5 seemed to come out of nowhere as a stop-gap measure. We'll have to see if the sales of WinMo devices are hurt as people sit on the sidelines waiting for Windows Mobile 7 to start shipping devices.