Windows Mobile 6.5: The big questions

What do you make of the likes of Samsung, which supports five operating systems in its handset range?

DW: It's good for the consumer, as they get choice. But we're now at this inflexion point, which you see in multiple industries, where there will be multiple players jostling for position.

And we're very good at competing in area, so while there will always be a place for alternative systems, like Linux and Apple jostling with us, the number will be down to two or three major players in there market over the next three or so years.

There's no world a mobile operator can sustain and test all mobile operating systems, and there's no way a hardware manufacturer can exploit or continually keep testing five or six operating systems.

At the moment everyone is investing in that marketplace, creating an opportunity where a good open platform is available for people to develop on top of.

Android has done well, and now the Chrome OS has been announced, there will be plenty of connection. How do you react to that?

DW: Well, Google is our number one competitor, in terms of the PC space, but not mobile. However, we are keeping a close eye on developments [with Chrome OS], although our number one competitor is RIM.

Windows mobile 6.5

Will we see any 6.x updates to Windows Mobile before the release of WM 7?

DW: There will be service packs for Windows Mobile that we'll be releasing. There will be things like new hardware with capacitive screens coming down from some companies, and we can exploit that by tweaking the OS to allow Windows Mobile to have capacitive touch.

But essentially for the end user, 6.5 is the release, and there will be some minor maintenance updates for OEMs. Is there a major release or another update will be made known to consumers? No, it will only be tweaks.

Apple do very good job [in hyping up incremental firmware updates], they release a new version of the firmware and it's got cut and paste in it, which we had for years, and the media love it.

But our next major release will be Windows Mobile 7.

AR: The production line of software is never ending. In the the olden days you developed software, you launched it, then moved on to the next one. Now you can't do that, it's a constant production line of innovation, not just waiting for next big thing.

Doubtless one day we'll get to the point where we can attach another integer to the product, and we can say we're at the next version, but really have to stop thinking about the OS in that way.

It is hard because we know we've propagated this way of thinking, but the truth is the whole market will be about constant innovation, and if you don't, you will be left behind.

Does the media coverage of the Apple iPhone firmware updates annoy you?

DW: Yeah, and they do a great job at it. We need to learn from it, to be truthful about it, we should be doing the same. But I don't think we've been in a position to do it, for instance with 6.1, we were never in a position to do updates or make important announcements.

How will you differentiate Windows Phone when there's WM 6.5 and 7 on offer?

DW: Consumers are moving away from versions – they don't want speeds and features, they want to know what it can do for them. So each phone will be sold as having these capabilities, whatever feature set, so it's positioned in the market as what it can do, not what version it will be, because that means nothing to consumers.

All the research we've done shows that, yet still see it with PCs; we still see them advertised with Pentium processor, or Core 2 duo processor. But it should be whether the device is great for photography, browsing, gaming, which is what we're trying to change in the market.

But surely, like with Vista and Windows 7, they'll want to know what version is under the hood?

DW: Will be branded as a 'Windows phone', and then the retailer can say it's 'powered by 6.5 or 7' etc. The primary brand is Windows phone, and retailers can use the operating systems for differentiation. It is a difficult one though.