Last week Wayne and I had the opportunity to sit in on an NDA workshop discussing the new and updated features of Windows Mobile 6.5. Wayne got hung up and couldn’t attend (pesky day job getting in the way, again!), but I was able to sit in an hear a bit about 6.5 and Marketplace, Microsoft’s new software store for Windows Phones.
Those of you who read our GearChat back in February will recognize many of the new 6.5 screens, and yes – the Zune-like interface is still present.
Gone is the obvious honeycomb styling of the launcher; well, I partially take that back. The honeycombs are still there, but their delineation has been eliminated. I think it looks much better.
I’m throwing up a gallery of screenshots that were included in the press info pack Wayne and I both received; since we were each sent an AT&T HTC Pure on two-week loan (essentially an HTC Touch Diamond2 like the one Mitchell reviewed in August, but slightly redesigned and upgraded to WM 6.5) which arrived mid-day Monday (Oct 5th), we’ll have comments on the device as well as the upgraded operating system in the next few days.
Was 6.5 worth the wait? It certainly looks like an improvement on the surface, but we both have reservations about how many levels down the “touch-friendly” features will extend. If 6.5 is basically just a finger-friendly shell over what has been largely a stylus-based operating system up until a generation or so ago, then the core experience may not be anything like what consumers coming from other touch based phones are expecting.
Wayne brought up an interesting thought today; he sees Windows Mobile 6.5 as a “better Android,” but is that necessarily a compliment? I guess he’ll be deciding that over the next few days. I’ve been using the iPhone 3GS for the last month, so the comparisons I’ll be making between the Pure and the latest iPhone incarnation will be unavoidable.
I can tell you this, and it is an odd thing for me to say when I have been such a fan of HTC’s Touch Flo 3D on all other Windows Mobile 6 devices: on the Pure, the first thing I did was turn it off (which automatically enabled Windows Default), because I wanted to give the new Windows Phone Today Screen a chance. So far, I really like the Zune-like interface.
In the next week or so, we should each have a list of five things we really like about 6.5 as well as five things we would like to see improved. In the meantime, here is a gallery of screenshots – some of which I honestly don’t think do the upgraded OS any justice. We’ll have to take some of our own to remedy that.
I should mention Windows Marketplace before I close for the night, which has one thing going for it that blows away the Apple App Store:
Windows® Marketplace offers a full refund within 24 hours of purchase, if you’re not satisfied — no questions asked.
Granted, the pickings are going to probably be pretty slim up front, but if they can get a solid application catalog in place…