Windows Phone Starter Edition confirmed: Windows Mobile 6.5 with bits planed off

Microsoft has confirmed the existence of Windows Phone Starter Edition, a tweaked version of Windows Mobile 6.5. What's in a name?

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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With all-singing, all-dancing new operating system Windows Phone 7 grabbing the headlines, it looked like Windows 6.5 was a lame duck. Microsoft is desperately hoping to change that perception by rebranding WinMo 6.5 as Windows Phone Starter Edition.

The boys and girls at Redmond made things clear as mud in an interview with our sister site ZDNet's Microsoft maven Mary-Jo Foley. One version of Windows Phone Starter Edition will be EDGE and GPRS only -- not 3G -- and is aimed at developing countries. Although there's no confirmation from Microsoft, the Web is also abuzz with rumours of a Windows Phone Classic Edition.

Starter Edition will come either with or without Office Mobile. Office Mobile 2010 is currently in beta and will arrive in final form some time this year. Obviously.

Different names and different versions, with different bits missing? Oh 'eck, we're having a flashback to last year's Windows 7 naming debacle. Microsoft announced a bunch of versions of the PC operating system, including 7 E, which came without Internet Explorer, 7 N, which came without Windows Media Player, which were available in Europe but then it changed its mind, and then there was no upgrade version or Family Pack and then there was, and first it was cheaper than the US and then it wasn't, and then our brains dribbled out of our ears.

Manufacturers will be building handsets sporting Windows Phone Starter Edition sometime this year, ahead of Windows Phone 7's debut.

For more on Windows Phone 7, check out our official screenshots, video walk-through and iPhone comparison.