Microsoft Unveils WinMo 6.5, My Phone, and Marketplace

windowsmobileMicrosoft (s msft) tried to generate a bit of buzz yesterday with a press event in Barcelona at which they unveiled three new technologies which are designed to help enhance their mobile customers’ experience. Enhance how, you ask? By getting them as close as possible to owning an iPhone, even though they still just have some Windows Mobile-based phone. The three new services all take not-so-subtle cues from Apple’s (s aapl) tool box, but will they help Microsoft beginning winning back ground from their Cupertino-based competitor?

First up, there’s Windows Mobile 6.5. While not the long-anticipated full version update from 6 to 7, 6.5 does still represent a major revision, with a completely redesigned lock screen, home screen, and new menus throughout. The obvious intent of the redesign? To optimize the interface for use with touchscreen devices. Everything has big, honeycomb, finger-sized icons and button, and while it doesn’t exactly look like Mobile OS X, it doesn’t look much like Windows anymore, either. It also comes with an update to mobile Internet Explorer that brings a lot of much-needed improvements and enhancements.
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Vid-Biz: Safe Eyes, Star Trek, Netbooks Launches Safe Eyes for the iPhone; app lets parent block objectionable content from being seen on kids’ mobile devices. (emailed release)

GoAnimate Adds Star Trek Characters; boldy create an animation no one has ever created before using animated versions of Kirk, Spock and even a few Tribbles. (GoAnimate)

Netbooks to Get HD Video; new version of the Intel Atom chip is being paired with the GN40 chipset that includes hardware-based 720p HD video decoding. (Last100)

Preview Netflix on Windows Mobile Devices; manage your queue and get a peek at movies through the magic of streaming video. (Zatz Not Funny!)

E! to Get Verizon Hub Channel; E! News, Daily 10 and The Soup will get segments on the touch-screen device. (TVWeek)

Older Audiences Drove Hulu Adoption; premium video site initially attracted audiences older than 55 when it first launched. (The Wall Street Journal)

Moto Backing Away From Windows Mobile

Earlier this month reports emerged that Motorola (s MOT) would cut as much as 50 percent of its handset division as it slashes the number of phones it sells to a dozen and focuses solely on Google’s (s goog) Android operating system. The decision made us wonder if Microsoft’s (s msft) Windows Mobile OS might be a big loser because of that focus on Android. The Wall Street Journal today reports that Motorola indeed might be saying sayonara to Windows. Read More about Moto Backing Away From Windows Mobile

Motorola Cuts Could Be Bad News for Windows Mobile

motorolaqMotorola will soon lay off as much as 50 percent of its handset division, according to mobile industry blog, PhoneScoop, citing an unnamed source said to be familiar with Motorola’s plans. The post also claims that Motorola (s mot) will skip the CTIA Wireless trade show in April, and will slash the number of new phones it releases this year down to a dozen. And going forward, at least according to PhoneScoop, the company will only make Google (s goog) Android-based smartphones. (Microsoft has already removed Motorola from the list of Windows Mobile smart phones on its website.)

“We don’t comment on rumors,” a Motorola spokesperson said when questioned about the veracity of this information. A quick glance at the track record of Motorola’s money-losing handset division over the past two years will show, however, that it’s in dire need of some sort of resuscitation.

But while Nokia (s nok), Samsung and LG are poised to benefit from a decision by Motorola to limit its offerings, such a move to bet solely on Android would not be so good for Microsoft (s msft) and its Windows Mobile OS.  Read More about Motorola Cuts Could Be Bad News for Windows Mobile

Early Look at Livestation on the iPhone

Livestation is demoing live-video streaming on the iPhone and iPod touch. Pretty cool stuff, but the product isn’t out yet, and it will only be available over Wi-Fi.

Review: Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 Possibly the Nicest WinMobile Phone

x1_slider_black_1 For the last couple of days I have been playing around with what could arguably be the best Windows Mobile phone in business – Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X1. From the packaging to the diminutive USB charger to the sleek finish of the device itself, the whole X1 experience is flawless. It is a well-designed smartphone that is very well-engineered. It is no different than Sony VAIO laptops or Bravia TVs, and as such it’s no surprise that it’s expensive: $799. The device is going to be available in the U.S. starting Nov. 28 on Sony’s (s sne) web site, Sony Style.
It comes with a very comfortable slider keyboard, great connectivity options (WiFi, 3G, Quad-band GSM etc.) and is a multimedia powerhouse. The phone comes with a 3-inch WVGA display with resolution of up to 800 X 480 pixels screen, which means it can play back videos in almost DVD quality and makes it easy to play 3D mobile games. I love the photos taken by the 3.2 megapixel camera and the music playback is solid and clear. X1 has a pretty decent battery life — and yes, it beats the pants off the iPhone 3G battery. It got about 8 hours on AT&T’s 3G network — ahead of my iPhone — but lagged the Android G1. However, it had better GSM standby and talk times. But again, battery usage differs from person to person. One thing I hate about the device is that it lacks built-in memory, but the good news is that it can take up to 32 GB in a memory card.
What will surprise you the most is that this phone is powered by Windows Mobile 6.1. Despite the torturous Windows Mobile interface, I found myself liking this device, which shows that with some creativity and lots of imagination, even Windows Mobile can stand up to assaults from Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone, RIM’s ( s rimm) Blackberry and Google’s (s goog) Android. Of course Windows Mobile means that the phone syncs with Microsoft Exchange over the air. It can read documents, spreadsheets and presentations natively.
I was surprised by how nimble the phone feels — I have yet to use another Windows Mobile phone that comes close to X1. The device gives you many ways to interact with the contact touch, full QWERTY keyboard, 4-way key and optical joystick navigation and panels. It is the panels which are awesome and function almost like how the applications are accessed on the iPhone.
Bottomline: If your company insists that you need a Windows Mobile phone, then Xperia X1 is an obvious (and perhaps the only) choice.

Microsoft Office Is Coming To the Cloud

Microsoft’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote will have a new home in the cloud, the company announced at the Microsoft Developers Conference in Los Angeles this morning, adding the Office suite to the cadre of software and services it has said it will provide as it develops its Windows Azure cloud-based platform. The browser-based versions of the apps will run on Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari, as well as on Windows Mobile devices. It will go into a tech preview for developers later this year, the company said.
Given that Microsoft (s MSFT) isn’t talking about when the suite might be released, why the announcement today? The company says it’s because the Office apps are part of its larger shift to the cloud announced with Azure. But it’s also coming relatively late to the game and has let efforts in the productivity space by others go by unchallenged.
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Seeking Bigger Footprint, Qik Adds Windows Mobile Support

One of my long-standing beliefs is that we are going from communicating online to interacting online, and a key component of that big shift is easy availability of live video, thanks to the easy availability of broadband, 3G wireless and cheap cameras on cell phones. That is why start-ups such as Qik, Kyte, and Flixwagon that enable these live interactions are interesting to me.

Qik, a Foster City, Calif.-based company that we broke the story on last December, has become very popular with the blogger crowd, who have done a great job of evangelizing a service that so far has been available to owners of really expensive Nokia phones like the N95 (GigaOM handset review). Today Qik took first step towards becoming more egalitarian and announced that its service will now work on Motorola Q and Samsung BlackJack devices, both smartphones powered by Windows Mobile operating system. The Qik service is now in limited availability through an invitation-only alpha program.

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