Bad Reviews for Windows Mobile 6.5 Put More Pressure on 7.0

If the latest reviews of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5 and grumblings about the dark fate of Project Pink are any indication, Microsoft needs Windows Mobile 7.0 to be an out-of-the-park home run when it debuts next year. Even then, Microsoft might have left itself with too much catching up to do, a textbook instance of too little, too late.

It’s a shame, though. While I doubt Microsoft ever could have achieved the consumer-pleasing style and grace of Apple’s iPhone, it seemed well placed for a meaningful mobile challenge to RIM for the favor of enterprise-messaging junkies. Unfortunately, it always missed the mark, with Windows Mobile 6.5 serving as the latest example of how Microsoft has lost ground against its major mobile-platform competitors.

Windows Mobile 7 will be a belated last chance to get back on track. The stakes riding on that version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system will be enormous.

According to market-research firm Gartner, Microsoft’s share of the mobile operating-system market dropped to nine percent in the second quarter. Google’s Android is set to compete more aggressively against the maligned Windows Mobile 6.5 for adoption of handset manufacturers, which means Microsoft figures to lose even more ground before Windows 7 finally makes its commercial debut.

With Windows Mobile 6.5 shaping up as an inadequate stopgap release, one can easily see why Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was so frustrated about Windows 7’s late arrival.

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