Microsoft has released Windows Mobile 6.5, the company's latest attempt to establish a mobile phone business and offer an alternative to the iPhone and Google Android-based devices.
The phones represent a rethink of Microsoft's strategy. Along with providing a mobile platform, the company now plans to offer mobile applications, services and a shop front.
Speaking in Paris, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, said, "These phones are only the beginning of a stream of mobile innovations that will be coming from Microsoft and our partners. Over the coming months you will see a regular drumbeat of exciting new devices from our partners and updates to our software to keep pace with evolving customer demands around browsing, touch and multi-touch capabilities, to name a few."
However, Windows Mobile 6.5, is still far behind other rival mobile operating systems. Gartner principal analyst Roberta Cozza, said the user interface has improved with Windows Mobile 6.5, but it is still a weak compared to rival operating systems.
"I do not think Windows Mobile 6.5 will help Microsoft hugely in establishing Windows Mobile smartphones. It does improve the user interface, but these improvements are not enough to make the platform at least as competitive as others like the Apple iPhone and Google Android, which are very consumer friendly."
She said, "In 6.5 we still have very small icons. While it is easy to launch an applications, users still need to use the stylus, unlike Google Android or iPhone, where users can use their finger to type a message on an on screen keyboard. The user interface is not optimised for touch."
Microsoft said the mobile operating system offers users access Windows Live photo sharing across social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Flickr. Users can also manage multiple e-mail accounts from their phone with Outlook Mobile and Exchange Server synchronisation
Microsoft has also added support for editing PowerPoint, Word and Excel documents and the ability to synchronise files on the phone through Windows Live Media Manager.
The redesigned Windows Internet Explorer mobile browser supports Adobe Flash Lite2, which allows Windows Mobile phones run Flash applications.