Windows Phone 7 Series & Classic to co-exist

Whilst the exciting announcement of Windows Phone 7 Series yesterday raises many questions itself, a lot of existing Windows Phone, specifically Windows Mobile 6.5 users are also left pondering what will happen to the current platform and more importantly the devices we have today. During an interview with Microsoft today, I found out the short answer is that Microsoft is not dropping the ball entirely.

Going forward, Windows Mobile 6.5 (and Windows Mobile 6.5.3) will be rebranded as Windows Phones Classic, and presumably the devices as Windows Phones Classic Series. Although this will not be reflected in retail until the release of WP7S, it does signify that Microsoft is committed to not just sustaining but potentially growing the current platform for some time to come.

To compliment WP7S’ focus on consumers, Windows Phones Classic will shift its focus to emerging markets and enterprise solutions. Notably one of the important reasons for this is to provide legacy support to all the existing investments made by OEMs and third-party developers to this platform.

HTC’s announcement today of the HD mini is a good example HTC themselves are not ready to write-off their investment of HTC Sense on Windows Mobile just yet.

Although Microsoft is not revealing what if any they have planned for updates to 6.5 platform, they did suggest 6.5.3 was indicative of the type of ongoing support the platform is likely to receive in the future.

103 insightful thoughts

  1. So WP7S/CE6.0 is the big reset like Vista with backward compatibility with WM6.5/CE5.2 gone? Will be interesting to see how much they have improved on that joke called IE Mobile that used to get 5/100 on Acid 3. Surely they can’t get ahead of desktop IE.

  2. Is that the lockscreen pictured on the WMS7 device?

    I like the panorama they have with 7 but im finding it really annoying in that pic that the y in february doesnt fit on screen.

  3. Does the Windows Phone Classic/7 Series duality remind you of the Windows 95/NT duality until Microsoft is able to migrate all of the important features and developers to the one platform? I’m all for duality – I’d rather have an advanced system available now and have it fully rounded at a later date rather than wait years for the classic system to be brought into future. Duality allows a full reboot – and that’s a good thing.

    1. I second that indeed, the need to make a quantum jump can be hinderd by the load of existing system invenstments and compatibility issues. I believe Microsoft should adopt this duality mentality, not only for the mobile platform, but also for the Desktop OS to remain relevent in this age.

      Technology need is a moving target, and sometimes you need to make a radical change to support new technology, and not be break existing invenstments you need to start anew. So GO MS!!!!

  4. A thought :- there’s no word on the backwards compatibility situation for 7 vs 6.5 at the moment. Perhaps the situation will be a bit like Apple with OS X and the classic environment – an internal 6.5 host for legacy apps. 6.5.3 has the necessary platform improvements (capacitive screens, enlarged and themed controls etc) to support the OS on the new 7 hardware standards.

    Certainly not everything would work (home screen plugins, input editors, perhaps not media apps or anything that used phone functionality), but for the general productivity apps that abound for WiMo, seems at least possible even if not necessarily plausible.

  5. David: Most Win9x software worked on NT (and vice versa), with the exception of things like DirectX games until Windows 2000. They both shared the Win32 API.

    By the sound of it so far, Windows Phone is a completely new OS (or at least a completely new API) with no backwards compatibility for apps. It sounds more like a new platform without much relation to the old platform except the name and company behind it.

    So not seeing much duality here, except that you can still buy the old product as well as the new one. But that duality existed with Android and the iPhone as well.

  6. It sounds like to me that we have a Zune Phone, and WinMo. If you look at it in that light, then WPS7 is just the consumer brand aka “Zune Phone” without the implied negativity of the Zune brand. (Although I personally don’t have a problem with the Zune brand myself.)

    Usually most companies would spend the marketing dollars to change the brand perception instead of creating a whole new brand that’s a tongue twister to say.

    I seriously doubt that we will see backwards compatibility with WPS7, if the goal is a “fresh” new look, then having some app from 2003 in grey classic style will not add to the value of the phone.

  7. cue customer confusion…

    This move shows how dependent Microsoft is on it’s OEMs. They should simply give an end of life date for WinMO 6.5. That would give people a fixed date to work towards for switching their apps… oops that’s right, there will be no apps on WinP7S (according to Balmer) or will there…?

    I am so confused…

  8. @tom..

    Damned if they do damned if they don’t eh? Its people like you that will complain regardless of what they do.
    I for one am glad they hit the reset switch and decided to make a good platform instead of trying to improve a 10 year old one. Windows mobile is merely an addon for PocketPC, it was never designed to be used as a phone.
    I’ve been a WinMo user for 5 years and I would rather have absolutely no compatibility if it means a good mobile OS. If you’ve watched the videos you would see they may have a winner on their hands. The big question here is not compatibility but multitasking, as it does not look like they will be allowing third party multitasking in the same was as windows mobile (if at all) which would be a pretty big blow.

  9. @Guest, starting fresh is fine but, based on rumours and hints, there are some legitimate things to complain about, IMO, although much is still unknown. (Which is another minor/temporary complaint: If they’re going to announce the phone, announce the phone, don’t have an announcement so light on meat and then say “no comment” to every important question until MIX.)

    Still waiting to find out what the real story is with app development, app store lock-down*, multi-tasking (or lack of) for 3rd party apps, etc. Stuff that is pretty important for what people assumed, initially at least, would be a smartphone platform and for people who had rejected the iPhone and wanted a good alternative because of those very issues.

    [ * and whether people will be allowed to release what they want and charge what they want or whether it will be like the iPhone (Apple's confusing, draconian, delaying, unpredictable and anti-competitive app review process) and/or like the Xbox (where you're not allowed to release free games, even indie titles, and publishers have to fight hard to get MS to let them release free DLC at all) or something more open (fingers crossed). ]

    Stuff like the physical Bing button — which cannot be remapped to any other function or search engine — suggests this platform isn’t going to be very open at all. It’s looking more like an advanced feature phone than a smartphone, and if that turns out to be true then it’s not really a Windows Mobile reboot, it’s something different that just shares the first word of its name. It still looks like something good, compared to other feature phones, and it’ll still probably be successful since the UI looks great and it’ll do more than enough for most people. From what we know so far, though, it’s *potentially* a disappointment for people who wanted a combined pocket computer + phone like Windows Mobile but better. But we’ll see as more info is revealed…

    Not having to run iTunes is a bonus compared to the iPhone, at least. :)

    1. @Leo,

      Your argument is valid to a certain point, but going so far as to call it a feature phone, i dont agree with. We the tech-geeks are the ones complaining to MS about the state of Windows Mobile compared to competition, we shouldn’t crucify MS for swinging to the other extreem.

      I wouldn’t want MS to lock-down the platform neither. The reason I don’t carry (never have) an iPhone is because of the dictatorship of that Cupertino company. But MS has to dictate a bit of Quality issue to the OEM in this case if they want to make these new devices Premium devices.

      Take for a short example the HTC WinMo products. The hardware quality leaves more to desire always. The quality of the Speakers in HTC phones is know heartbreaker(distortion and all), coupled with the quality of the microphones. Go and record a quality sound on an HTC WinMo product and record on iPhone, you will see what I am talking about. I have here an HTC Touch-HD. The phone-speaker died the second week I got it. I didn’t send it in because I can’t miss the device, and I use my stereo bluetooth headphone anyway. I had the same problem with my old Prophet. Go search XDA forum for speaker issues from HTC.

      We know the OEM need a profit margin, but that at the expense of quality is unacceptable; MS has to control the whole platform. On the Search button, I don’t agree that MS should release it to be freely mapped to other Search services. This is an MS Phone, on the Android is Google the king, the iPhone dictates its own default browser too, so why should MS in this case?

      The only thing most important to me is that the XDA people be still allowed to make the platform popular like before. The reason some of us don’t choose iPhone is that we prefer to live in a world without WALLS!

  10. I’m not sure why multitasking is so crucial or relevant to the difference between a smartphone and a “feature phone”; WinMo has always been an uber-multitasker and critics have spent years saying they want to kill each app by default when they close it (cue history of all those X-button task manager apps).

    It seems reasonable to predict that the new WP7S will have the same type of 3rd party support that Windows Media Center has now – plugins yes, standalone apps maybe not. I’m in totally in favour of this model; for one thing it will likely entail more rigorous UI standards. (Android will become the domain of fugly basement apps.) If plugins can function in the background to receive push data and put notifications on homescreen tiles, that’s all the multitasking we need. It keeps the OEMs from loading down the devices with a bunch of 3rd-party sponsorware crap, which slows things down (and is a big reason why XDA-developers custom roms are such popular replacements).

    1. So many stupid readers at Long’s blog, nowadays.

      Blue Screen Of Death? What the heck are you talking about it? This isn’t the normal desktop Windows OS despite what you may think. What did you think? That they just ported Windows 7 over to the mobile phone. Lol.

    2. more or less they ported the old windows ce with barely uptodate hadware support. but its good not to be stuck with one source for app downloads

  11. Wondering about industry oriented equipment. I keep seeing a lot of workers that use Windows Mobile PDA for work and I’m wondering if there will still be a small work group to address this need.

    About WP7, I still have to see what comes out of MIX, but its not looking good. It just look likes its making an iPhone but Microsoft branded. With the same exact problems!

  12. Without true multitasking (not iphone OS style), some kind of Windows Mobile Clasic emulation and an selectable browser (IE, Opera, Fennec) and search engine I’m not buying an zune phone.

    If WPS 7 is that limited I’m jumping ship to Android

  13. 全世界的媒体都是报导一样的东西!能否放出系统设置,开始菜单,运行程序和游戏之类的图片?是否兼容WM6.X之前的软件,全世界说的都不是重点!

  14. HTC Touch HD Mini is the last WM 6.5 device from HTC ever… No new Windows HTC phone will be released until the autumn and those phones will have Windows Phone 7 Series…

  15. hi,
    windows phone 7 is just ‘windows’. some small square, rectangle windows which lead to a larger ‘fullscreen window’! it certainly live-up with its name. our phone is just a window to our life!
    i love the ui – cheers.

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  17. The iPhone is awesome right now but it is good to see the additional competition
    Just hope that the windows phone does not come with the blue screen of death

  18. Let’s face it Microsoft and even Google can’t compete with the iPhone. Google just announced that the Wave is going bye bye, and if they can’t get an iphone killer, Microsoft sure as heck won’t. People like Apple, plain and simple. Say what you will about the actual product, they market their stuff so people think they must have it, and it works.

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