Windows Mobile’s Got a New Name, New Game

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microsoft_small.jpgADOTAS – I can smirk a bit that the weather report in Barcelona, Spain — where the Mobile World Conference is taking place right now — is only nominally nicer than here in New York. Across the pond they’re apparently beset by clouds and rain, similar to here only we’re a bit colder.

Then again, I doubt conference attendees would be spending much time outside if it was hot and sunny considering all the gadgets and doodads waiting in the auditorium. HTC, for instance, has already unveiled three new phones, one of which is being considered the souped-up Nexus One (HTC manufactures the hardware for Google’s phone).

But also trying to make a splash in the mobile scene would be Microsoft with its latest incarnation of Windows Mobile — except it’s no longer Windows Mobile, but Windows Phone.

The 7 series has a completely reworked interface that bares no resemblance to past Windows Mobile versions. TechCrunch’s Greg Kumparak got a chance to play around with it and called it Zune-esque (wait, is that a good thing?) and the Zune brand will be used for music and video content. The gaming content will hook into Microsoft’s Xbox Live network. In addition, the phone will link to an app marketplace and feature functions from the beloved Office software.

The unveiling is a bit of a tease considering that Windows Phone won’t appear for the consumer until the 2010 holiday season, but Microsoft already has several hardware partners, including Dell, Garmin-Asus, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Hewlett-Packard.

But Microsoft is being very strict about manufacturer specs and will not let hardware developers make large modifications, unlike Android. That sounds like a mistake — Android has a distinct advantage in its flexibility. While the iPhone OS is also pretty rigid, Apple makes its own hardware.

According to AdMob, Windows Mobile’s market share of devices fell from 8% to 2% last year. Android has certainly gained favor as the iPhone alternative — will Windows Phone reverse Microsoft’s mobile fortunes, or is this revamp too little, too late?

Screenshot from Windows Phone at the Mobile World Conference.
Screenshot from Windows Phone at the Mobile World Conference.

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