Microsoft today finally unveiled its newest mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 6, at 3GSM in Barcelona. Details of the new operating system broke last week after a site in France broke its nondisclosure agreement with Microsoft.Microsoft has the enterprise squarely in its sights with Windows Mobile 6. The chief upgrade for the operating system is improved integration with Microsoft's Exchange Server 2007, a move clearly designed to help Windows Mobile win market share from Research In Motion's BlackBerry platform. Microsoft hopes that Windows Mobile 6 will make it the key to the growing market for business mobility.
Windows Mobile 6 also features improved mobile access to Microsoft Office, including enhanced mobile versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
"A workforce that is both mobile and connected is becoming essential for business success," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a statement. "That's why we're integrating innovative mobile technologies into all our key products, with Windows Mobile as the centerpiece."
Here is a rundown of the improvements Microsoft outlined this morning:
• Better-looking e-mail. Users view e-mail the way it was intended with its original pictures, tables, and formatting, whether from a corporate e-mail server such as Exchange Server 2007, Web-based accounts such as Windows Live Hotmail or Yahoo Mail, or a wide range of other service providers.
• Ease of viewing and editing of Office system documents. The new Office Mobile suite, built for all Windows Mobile powered devices, gives users a truly familiar and powerful experience with rich viewing and editing capabilities, without having to worry about the deletion of critical formatting and images.
• E-mail management and setup with fewer clicks. Nine new one-click options have been added, including Reply All, setting a flag, moving a message to a subfolder, and, of course, Delete. Users can set an automatic out-of-office reply while on the road when using a Windows Mobile 6 powered device and Exchange Server 2007.
• Synchronization with Windows Vista. Windows Vista and the Windows Mobile Device Center take the guesswork out of managing a device and swapping music, pictures, movies, and Outlook information between PC and the device.
• Smart calendar bar. This innovative new feature gives users the ability to understand at a glance the day or week ahead and quickly determine open time on their schedules. With Exchange Server 2007, they can see who is attending a meeting and forward or reply to meeting requests.
• Web search, e-mail, instant messaging, and blogging all together. Windows Live for Windows Mobile will provide customers with a rich set of services including Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Live Search, and Windows Live Spaces, uniquely designed to work with Windows Mobile software. Users also can find all their contacts in one unified list and see presence information on their Windows Live Messenger contacts.
• Contacts with context. Call history is now placed where it belongs, in each individual contact card, so people spend less time searching and more time communicating.
Microsoft showed off the new features of Windows Mobile 6 to the press and later at its booth to the show floor. During the announcement, there was some tension in the air, as there often is for the software giant at wireless events in Europe. While Microsoft has made inroads with European carriers and global handset makers (and works with almost all of them), the wireless market is not one that Microsoft dominates.
Microsoft also added to its Windows Mobile ecosystem, announcing partnerships with handset maker LG and Japanese wireless carrier Softbank.
Windows Mobile 6 will hit the market beginning in the second quarter of this year.