Windows Mobile 6.1 unveiled

Microsoft introduces Windows Mobile 6.1 at CTIA 2008, which brings slight enhancements to the mobile operating system.

Windows Mobile 6.1
Windows Mobile 6.1 Microsoft

Of the four major mobile operating systems (Palm, Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry), we hear plenty of complaints from users that Windows Mobile devices are the hardest to use because of the laborious navigation. And we certainly agree. Seriously, do you really need to go through several steps just to open or close an application? To be fair, Microsoft has heard the cries and made some headway in making its smartphones easier to use with Windows Mobile 6. But there's plenty of room for improvement, and the company is hoping its latest build will solve some of the problems.

At CTIA 2008 on Tuesday, Microsoft announced the latest version of its mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 6.1. The update includes several new features designed to make the devices easier to manage and help users save time. Here's a rundown of what you can expect:

New home screen
To start, there's a new home screen that provides a more attractive interface but more importantly, quicker access to key information and applications. There are now a series of panels, which you can scroll through up and down, left or right, to view your missed calls, e-mails, and voicemails; check upcoming appointments; peruse your multimedia library; and access certain settings, such as the Task Manager. There's also a Getting Started wizard that will walk you through your e-mail setup, changing the background image, and setting up Bluetooth connections. For Bluetooth headsets, it will even bypass the whole passcode process (the system automatically enters the manufacturer's default passcodes--usually 0000 or 1234) and automatically connect to the headset. Once you've set everything up, you have the option of removing the Getting Started panel from your home screen. And though minor, the clock size has been increased--a feature Microsoft says its customers have been asking for.

Internet Explorer Mobile
Navigating Web sites is made easier thanks to a feature that allows you to pan in and out. Instead of mercilessly scrolling through an entire page just to get to one part of the site, you can pan out, find the spot you want, and then pan in. Microsoft also announced that it will bring Internet Explorer 6, which means Adobe Flash support, to its smartphones around the holiday season.

Messaging and more
As for messaging, Windows Mobile 6.1 offers just a couple--but key--improvements. First, there's support for threaded text messaging. And you can now select multiple e-mails at once. Other enhancements include richer Windows Live capabilities (check out CNET News.com's Elinor Mills's story for more) and System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 and Exchange Server 2007 SP1 support for better device management and security.

So you're probably wondering, when can you get it? Windows Mobile 6.1 will be available sometime in Q2, and a number of manufacturers (HTC, Samsung Electronics, Motorola, Pantech) and carriers (AT&T, Sprint, Alltel) have already announced that they will offer the upgrade. A sample of supported smartphones include the Samsung BlackJack II, AT&T Tilt, Sprint Motorola Q9c, Sprint Mogul, and Alltel Touch. For the full rundown of devices and features, check out the Microsoft Windows Mobile Web site.

 

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