Sony Ericsson Intros WinMo Smartphone

The Aspen, based on Windows Mobile 6.5.3, is scheduled to ship in the second quarter.

Sony Ericsson has introduced a business smartphone powered by the latest version of Windows Mobile, which has the most advanced multi-touch capabilities from Microsoft to date.

The Aspen, based on Windows Mobile 6.5.3, is scheduled to go on sale in selected markets the second quarter, Sony Ericsson said Tuesday. The device is targeted at business users, offering both a QWERTY keyboard and a multi-touch screen.

Other features meant to attract businesspeople is support for Microsoft Exchange. The device ships with the mobile editions of Microsoft Office and Outlook. Pricing was not disclosed.

Windows Mobile 6.5.3 doesn't bring the smartphone OS to the level of multi-touch capabilities found in Google's Android, the Apple iPhone, or the Palm Pre. However, the OS does narrow the gap by making it possible to use a Microsoft-powered phone without a stylus.

The biggest changes to the Microsoft platform are native support for a capacitive screen and multi-touch. Such support within the OS means manufacturers can focus on other areas and developers can take advantage of those features without worrying so much about the device itself.

Other features in WinMo 6.5.3 include a magnifier tool, which enables the operation of older applications that originally needed a fine-tipped stylus for navigation. Icons can be dragged and dropped on the Start Screen, and the browser has been modified to load pages and zoom and rotate faster. In addition, pan and flick gestures are smoother.

Despite the progress reflected in WinMo 6.5.3, Microsoft hardware partners are looking toward Windows Mobile 7 as being a stronger competitor to Android and the iPhone. Microsoft, however, is not expected to release WinMo 7 until late this year.

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