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Microsoft Cellphones Handhelds Operating Systems Windows

Microsoft To Add Yet Another Smartphone OS This Year 179

Posted by timothy
from the 5th-time's-the-charm dept.
GMGruman writes "Someone at Microsoft either really loves mobile operating systems or can't make up his mind as to which to use, because Microsoft Thursday announced yet another mobile OS, its fifth. The new Windows Embedded Handheld OS will succeed Windows Mobile 6.5 and run on at least some existing Windows Mobile smartphones. It is not the same mobile OS, known as Windows Phone 7, that Microsoft earlier this year said would replace Windows Mobile and break with it in terms of compatibility so Microsoft could better compete with the iPhone and Google Android OS."
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Microsoft To Add Yet Another Smartphone OS This Year

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    So, they'll have Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, Windows Embedded Compact 7, Windows Embedded Handheld ... and the only one that sounds okay won't be out until November at the earliest, whereas the 3 others are lame pieces of crap.
    Who, by the way, comes up with these names? Can you possibly make Windows Embedded Compact Handheld Mobile Phone 8 or something and combine all of the awesome features into one package... or will we just have to settle for iOS 4.x?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by c0lo (1497653)

      So, they'll have Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7, Windows Embedded Compact 7, Windows Embedded Handheld ...

      "Me too" attitude (what? let Android be the only one with fragmented market?) ... Nothing new from Microsoft, including the "shoot yourself in the foot... no that foot... the other one. Atta boy!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Threni (635302)

        There are very few changes to the various versions of Android, so you can ignore fragmentation and target 1.5 and pretty much everyone will be able to run it. The addition of wifi tethering, apps to sd etc in 2.2 makes no difference at all to users of 2.1,1.6,1.5 etc.

    • According to the article, Windows Embedded Handheld replaces Windows Mobile, and it is built on Windows Embedded Compact 7 the way Ubuntu is built on Linux and X11. This makes two operating systems (Windows Phone 7 and Windows EH) for handheld devices such as phones, PDAs, and handheld barcode scanners. But compare to Google's own mobile operating systems Chrome OS and Android.
      • by Tapewolf (1639955) on Friday June 18, 2010 @07:44AM (#32611390)

        So would this be a fair assessment for someone familiar with the current product lineup?

        1. WEC7 is a rebranding/retread of Windows CE 6. There will be industrial PDAs using it like the MC55, Psion Ikon, DAPtech etc
        2. WEH is basically the Windows Mobile shell on top of WEC7, just as WM6 was the shell on top of CE5. In theory it should be possible to recompile/port existing C++ codebases and will be a useful upgrade path for large corporations who currently run their bespoke stocktaking/delivery/survey applications on top of WM6.
        3. Windows Phone 7 is a completely new offering built on the WEC7 kernel. It has a locked-down userland aimed at being flashy for the consumer market which cannot run native code (and is useless if you have 8 years of C++ codebase you want to run on it).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tepples (727027)

          cannot run native code (and is useless if you have 8 years of C++ codebase you want to run on it)

          You're supposed to port your C++ codebase such that all array accesses and pointer accesses go through templates. Then the templates are implemented twice: in terms of pointers on unmanaged platforms (PC, Mac, Apple iOS, Android NDK) and in terms of C++/CLI handles on .NET platforms (WP7, 360).

          • Then the templates are implemented twice: in terms of pointers on unmanaged platforms (PC, Mac, Apple iOS, Android NDK) and in terms of C++/CLI handles on .NET platforms (WP7, 360).

            From a Windows Mobile 7 Q&A [zdnet.com]

            Q: What development languages are supported on Windows Phone 7?

            A: Right now, the only development language supported is C#. Developers are also interested in Visual Basic, C++ and other .Net apps, Kindel acknowledged, and Microsoft may add support for these over time. But Microsoft's development str

        • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Friday June 18, 2010 @10:48AM (#32613052)

          So would this be a fair assessment for someone familiar with the current product lineup?

          1. WEC7 is a rebranding/retread of Windows CE 6. There will be industrial PDAs using it like the MC55, Psion Ikon, DAPtech etc
          2. WEH is basically the Windows Mobile shell on top of WEC7, just as WM6 was the shell on top of CE5. In theory it should be possible to recompile/port existing C++ codebases and will be a useful upgrade path for large corporations who currently run their bespoke stocktaking/delivery/survey applications on top of WM6.
          3. Windows Phone 7 is a completely new offering built on the WEC7 kernel. It has a locked-down userland aimed at being flashy for the consumer market which cannot run native code (and is useless if you have 8 years of C++ codebase you want to run on it).

          That list also gives one a glimpse of what is wrong with Windows Mobile in general. It is clunky, unintuitive and fragmented. It seems I can't pick up two phones purportedly running the same version of the same Windows Mobile OS and use the same procedure to configure half the things I want to. Some time ago I configured a HTC S620 smartphone to work over a a VPN connection. It took quite a while to figure out the clunky UI and the badly documented process needed to accomplish this (Mostly HTC's fault for writing a crappy manual) but it worked fine in the end. Recently the thing broke down and I was provided with another type of HTC smartphone of the same vintage running the same OS version but the configuration process was totally different. Although it usually ends up working OK if you have the patience to do battle with the UI and read the (often) crappy user manual, I passionately hate setting up and configuring Windows Mobile.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      one that sounds okay won't be out until November at the earliest, whereas the 3 others are lame pieces of crap.

      If I were betting, I'd bet the one coming out in Nov will be a lame piece of crap, too. If a roofer does a shitty job on the first three roofs, do you expect him to get the fourth roof right?

      Microsoft does sometimes improve, though -- Win 7 is (marginally) better than XP IMO, though they went backwards with search and control panel; both are far less useable. I still prefer Mandrake (yes, from seve

    • Can you possibly make Windows Embedded Compact Handheld Mobile Phone 8 or something and combine all of the awesome features into one package ... ?

      You mean like they did for the iPod [youtube.com]?

    • by tverbeek (457094)

      Microsoft can't come up with - and stick to - a good name to save their life, but that's not the real issue. Despite the shall-we-say limited adoption of their legacy smartphone OS (WinCE/PocketPC/WinMobile), there's a pretty substantial installed base of vertical-market apps and users of those apps. (Even Apple was stuck using it for a while in their stores, before they started making their own handhelds.) MS needs to compete with iOS and Android and WebOS in terms of functionality, and that means somet

  • by ttldkns (737309) on Friday June 18, 2010 @07:03AM (#32611206) Homepage

    Seriously. Steve Ballmer laughed at google on stage at D:8 for having both android and chrome OS and now microsoft has 3 current, all slightly different mobile operating systems. I mean come on.

    Heres an Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] link as I can't find the exact video on the all things d site.

  • Can't wait (Score:5, Funny)

    by nysus (162232) on Friday June 18, 2010 @07:09AM (#32611240)

    "The OS will feature a richer and immersive user experience..."

    This can only mean that it's gonna have a 3D display with Kinect-like controls. I can't wait to fly through the keypad snatching at buttons as they rush by!

    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      Don't forget to pet your phone every night before you go to sleep!

    • by kpainter (901021)

      "The OS will feature a richer and immersive user experience..."

      This is marketing speak for "you will have to work pretty hard to get it to do anything"

  • Windows Phone 7 is the only upgrade path. There is no clear hardware path, so all users can do is wait for the next gen.
    But the profit split is neat via the "enterprise" idea.
    A low end 'first hit is almost free' idea for the Sidekick generation.
    Now you have the enterprise idea of costumer retention via proprietary data storage.
    The "reliability and security features" will so protect your data you will have no option but to stay with MS.
    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      Now you have the enterprise idea of costumer retention via proprietary data storage.

      Otherwise known as TBBC, for tailor bondage by backup closing.

  • by Kentaree (1078787) on Friday June 18, 2010 @07:26AM (#32611310) Homepage
    It's an embedded devices OS, like WindowsCE. Still annoyed at Microsoft for dropping support for .NET Compact Framework from the new Visual Studio 2008. I hope this one will support CF or I'm going to have a whole lot of soon-to-be unsupported handhelds on my hands
  • by Burz (138833) on Friday June 18, 2010 @07:33AM (#32611346) Journal

    ...in smartphones and hand held devices in general.

    iPhone -- iOS Unix

    Android -- Linux

    Palm -- Linux

    RIM -- Moving to QNX

    That leaves Symbian and Windows Mobile as the two non-'nix holdouts.

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      Although Nokia also have Maemo, which is Linux :) And note that whilst Symbian isn't Unix, it is open source which I think deserves some credit (not that you ever hear about it on Slashdot - once upon a time, Slashdot would focus on open source even when they were less popular; now, the open source platforms get ignored in place of closed locked down platforms, even when the open source one has vastly more market share).

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Although Nokia also have Maemo, which is Linux :) And note that whilst Symbian isn't Unix, it is open source which I think deserves some credit (not that you ever hear about it on Slashdot - once upon a time, Slashdot would focus on open source even when they were less popular; now, the open source platforms get ignored in place of closed locked down platforms, even when the open source one has vastly more market share).

        And then you'd have to add iOS as "open source" as well, because well, it runs on top of

    • It's becoming a unix world...

      Yes, I'm glad to say it seems that way (again). Although it's more a case of "it's becoming an open source, collaborative world", which is even better.

      RIM -- Moving to QNX

      Interesting. I'd only heard about the microkernel and tried photon; didn't realise QNX was unix-like under the hood.

      • by Burz (138833)

        I remember QNX was once actually "Quantum Unix" but they didn't have the AT&T license and had to remove the explicit "Unix".

        RIM bought QNX recently.

  • by jimmydigital (267697) on Friday June 18, 2010 @07:44AM (#32611388) Homepage Journal
    Reading these stories about MS lately is making me all nostalgic for when what they did mattered. I can't quite put my finger on it... but at some point they lost their big and scary status.. and have just become more of a joke.. to me at least. There was a time when their whims could shift the whole market.. these days I wonder if the masses even notice their flailing attempts to 'compete'.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday June 18, 2010 @08:07AM (#32611504)

      I know when that was - it was when the big Unix vendors decided that you had to buy the very expensive kit and software then allowed you to have, if you bought a large support contract and training to manage their overly-expensive bloated stuff. Then this little upstart company was selling PCs that did most of what the big guys were doing but at a significantly lower price and with a lot more flexibility over what you could or could not do with your IT system.

      How times have changed!

      (Ok, there was a time in the middle when their stuff wasn't that good, but you still wanted it - ad every time an upgrade came out, you knew you had to have it because it would fix a load of problems with the software. Today that time is pretty much gone, unless you've bought sharepoint, so no-one really feels the need to grab the upgrade immediately)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AHuxley (892839)
      Computers are just part of life for everybody now.
      I think MS lost it with the DRM in Vista and Win 7.
      The 360 640p discovery, sidekick ect just keep the sad news flowing with every next generation they enter.
      DRM and threats to the emerging digital market where and are real.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClaraBow (212734)
      I share the same feelings. They are all bark and no bite as of late. It is a bit sad like a fading sports star...
    • by nyctopterus (717502) on Friday June 18, 2010 @08:40AM (#32611706) Homepage

      Yeah, it's interesting isn't it. I think it's because it's become clear that the kind of big-ticket software that Microsoft has built itself on just isn't where the real money's going to be in a few years. It's reached a peak complexity-wise, features-wise, and usefulness-wise. Instead, collaborative service software (i.e. Google) will be the way a lot of businesses go, and consumers will go with small, cheap, and cheerful (i.e. the Apple App Store), and social network type stuff (Facebook and its successors). Portability is where it's at, and Microsoft has missed so many beats it can't catch up, especially because it means essentially cannibalising they big-ticket software business.

      I'm a little wary of this trend, even though I can definitely see its value. I'm a heavy user of said big-ticket software myself (Adobe products mostly), and I don't want to see it stagnate. That said, I think it's pretty stagnant already, and needs a serious shake-up. Microsoft and Adobe's products are absurdly complex and bloated these days; there simply has to be a simpler way. And a cheaper way too!

      • by Luscious868 (679143) on Friday June 18, 2010 @11:43AM (#32613644)

        Yeah, it's interesting isn't it. I think it's because it's become clear that the kind of big-ticket software that Microsoft has built itself on just isn't where the real money's going to be in a few years. It's reached a peak complexity-wise, features-wise, and usefulness-wise. Instead, collaborative service software (i.e. Google) will be the way a lot of businesses go, and consumers will go with small, cheap, and cheerful (i.e. the Apple App Store), and social network type stuff (Facebook and its successors). Portability is where it's at, and Microsoft has missed so many beats it can't catch up, especially because it means essentially cannibalising they big-ticket software business.

        I think you're spot on in your analysis of where the consumer market is heading but when it comes to the business side of things office life is still dominated by standard desktop / laptop computing using big ticket software for most workers. I don't come across many businesses in my line of work where users don't have a desktop or laptop running Windows and Office in addition to one or more big ticket industry specific software applications with the one large noticable exception being the health-care industry where more and more providers are moving to tablets, which for doctors and nurses who aren't stationary makes perfect sense.

        • I admit I don't know much about how large businesses are run (never worked for one!), so you might be right. Although, I suspect startups will move to software-as-service, and will stick with it as they get big.

          The big now problem seems to be how you collaborate on stuff, and shift information around, not number of features in an office suite. That's gotta hurt Microsoft in the long run (right?).

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      I'm not sure there's anything new here.

      MS were big in the desktop/PC market - and they still are. They still shift this market.

      MS aren't so big in phones - and they never have been (not that I see a problem with that - Apple are happy being number 3 in smartphone OSs and number 6 or so in terms of phones; MS might not be number 1, but neither are Apple here, as long as MS make extra money from it, that's all that matters).

      If you mean that Apple get far more hype, well if anything, that's more a change for A

    • by Locutus (9039)
      I know of and heard of many many Windows PocketPC, Mobile, etc users who have dumped Windows on the handheld device because of how poor the platform is. So those who have tried and paid the price know how poorly they've done in these segments. But, there are millions more who only know Microsoft Windows on the desktop and to most of them, Microsoft is 'the computer' so they are ripe for the picking with the right marketing campaign.

      One of the great things about the success of the iPhone has been that people
    • This was predictable.. Microsoft learned that it can succeed by changing the product name and look when it fails. Just look at Windows Vista.

      [troll]
      Is Microsoft going to change its name in the near future?
      [/troll]

  • Incompatibility (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StormReaver (59959) on Friday June 18, 2010 @07:45AM (#32611392)

    If this Microsoft operating system is going to be incompatible with the other Microsoft operating systems, why not just switch to something else now and be done with it? Compatibility is the only advantage Microsoft software has, and that is being thrown out with the bathwater.

    • Re:Incompatibility (Score:5, Informative)

      by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Friday June 18, 2010 @08:32AM (#32611642) Homepage

      That's exactly what they did!

      Windows Mobile looks like crap, and they know it. They maintained compatibility above all else, and the result is that you can use most of the familiar Windows API on it, and make all your apps look like tiny desktop apps. They worked but weren't very intuitive, especially in the new world of touch. Because of this, "Windows Phone 7" was announced as a completely incompatible OS, supporting only Silverlight apps. It's meant to be the next-gen platform that can compete with the slickness of the iPhone.

      The problem is that Windows Mobile had a lot of business users and they weren't too happy with everything they make and use becoming obsolete overnight. That's the void this fills. This "Windows Embedded Handheld" maintains the compatibility platform they bought into.

      I suspect the only difference between the two will be that one uses the old shell and one uses the new Silverlight shell -- it's already easy to confirm that Windows Phone 7 uses a similar (if not the same) platform underneath the new UI.

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        For a Windows user, there is a LOT you can do with a WinMo 5-6.5 device with little/no effort - no need for custom (and very expensive) vendored products.

        For instance, hooking up an RFID scanner to a WinMo phone or PDA, and automagically putting your data into a (desktop) Office-compatible spreadsheet, running totals, adding input, etc. as you go is dead simple (particularly if you've got an older, better non-capacitive screen). You can then just copy the file back over to your desktop, macros and all, and

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          For instance, hooking up an RFID scanner to a WinMo phone or PDA, and automagically putting your data into a (desktop) Office-compatible spreadsheet, running totals, adding input, etc. as you go is dead simple (particularly if you've got an older, better non-capacitive screen). You can then just copy the file back over to your desktop, macros and all, and work on it there unchanged.

          You might be a happier person if you just used your phone to play angry birds or koi pond instead of whatever it was that you j

  • by HonestButCurious (1306021) on Friday June 18, 2010 @08:11AM (#32611512) Journal
    MEH OS is exactly how I feel about this new offering and its chances of impressing anybody in this age and time. At least they didn't get it as bad as the CrAPI one.
  • by BandoMcHando (85123) on Friday June 18, 2010 @08:15AM (#32611534)
    The version of the article on engadget (here [engadget.com]) seems a little more informative:

    "We're starting to see that philosophy play out today with the introduction of Windows Embedded Handheld, which is essentially a warmed-over version of WinMo 6.5.3 with some key UI and enterprise-focused enhancements. Microsoft is specifically calling out an "extended support life-cycle" for the platform, a sign that these phones aren't for the gotta-have-it crowd -- instead, the company intends to push these things through corporate fleets where Windows Mobile has traditionally dominated, places where Windows Phone's flashy stylings and locked-down underpinnings won't have the same draw."

    Mostly seems this *is* Windows Mobile 6.5 in all but name.

    • And the saddest thing is that even though it's Window Mobile 6.5, it's really Windows Mobile 5 with a series of minor changes. Basically it's been 5+ years since MS has done any real work on their mobile OS.
  • by hitmark (640295)

    to me this reads like microsoft is in the same pickle that palm was in when smartphones first started up.

    back then they had the problem that their current palmos (garnet) was running into a brick wall in terms of capabilities. They had a more updated version available (cobalt) but no one wanted it as it was not compatible with the library of third party garnet software that was out there.

    basically, 6.5 looks like someone crammed desktop windows onto a phone. Microsoft wants to get a ground up rethink of the

  • Following trends from l33t websites like Freshmeat.net, they have decided that it shall be known as Yet Another Touted Microsoft Mobile OS *spit*

  • Because if theres anything this world needs, Its another Microsoft OS !

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