While we were at Mobile World Congress this week we spoke to Windows Mobile group product manager John Starkweather about the “more and more consumer” future of Windows Mobile.

Starkweather told us explicitly that Microsoft wants to get Windows Mobile into the consumer space. “We are very interested in expanding the set of people we can sell to. There are a billion phones that ship each year and in this smartphone segment…there are somewhere between 80 and 120 million devices [shipping].

“And [along with] our good friends at Symbian and all the Linux players and even Apple –everyone wants to grow that pie, that’s what we’re working on.”

“And one of the ways you grow that pie is to appeal to more of those billion people. All those things that as consumers – I hate that word – as real people we ought to know about.”

Microsoft's Danger future

Starkweather also explained to us the acquisition of Danger, the social networking, software and services company behind the OS on the US T-Mobile Sidekick (otherwise known as the Danger Hiptop). “The actual devices powered by Danger software have appealed to a younger group of people than where Windows Mobile has been in the past,” explains Starkweather.  

“How we integrate that piece remains to be seen. We’re talking about going more and more consumer. What Robbie [Bach] talked about is more back end infrastructure that folks don’t see. [We] intend to incorporate that technology into a broader set of things,” says Starkweather.

He thinks Microsoft has “done a very good job” reaching out to businesses with Windows Mobile. “There’s still tons of growth there.”

But Starkweather adds it’s not just about Windows Mobile, but also about Microsoft’s partnerships elsewhere in the industry. “We’re doing all those things, but at the same time we can have a great IM service, such as our Windows Live team is doing, where you can do instant messaging [even] on low end handsets. Nokia’s using Windows Live. It’s not just on Series 60, its series 40 as well. What you’ll see from us over the next year is [expanded access to IM].”