Editor's Corner: Windows Mobile 5.0

As expected, Microsoft formally announced Windows Mobile 5.0 (Magneto) at the Mobile & Embedded DevCon. Bill Gates showed off the new features, like new 3D gaming APIs and security features, and predicated that cellphones with embedded MP3 players will eclipse the iPod. Presumably, Gates hopes those cell phones will be using Microsoft's increasingly popular music DRM scheme.

For developers, MSDN has posted a detailed "What's New" document for Windows Mobile 5.0 and a Windows Mobile migration FAQ for developers. Peter Foot also has a nice diagram of the Windows Mobile Managed APIs from MEDC, and Chris De Herrera's has an annotated WM5 directory listing. It seems like Microsoft has addressed many of the problems present in earlier versions of Windows Mobile, but now small developers are unhappy about one rumored "feature" of WM5. According to some Smartphone fans, WM5 requires developers to buy a copy of Visual Studio .NET 2005 in order to install the SDK. Previously, developers could get away with using free development tools and emulators.

Microsoft also appears to have the support of manufacturers. HTC announced that it will be the first to offer a Windows Mobile 5.0 device, the Universal. The HTC Universal is a 3G clamshell mobile device with a QWERTY keyboard.

Windows Mobile 5.0 seems like a nice upgrade to the operating system, though certainly nothing revolutionary. We'll have to wait until the marketing and PR blitz dies down to see how the OS actually plays out among consumers, manufacturers, and software developers. - Eli

P.S. FierceDeveloper's big brother FierceWireless has just announced the third annual Fierce 15, a list of influential up-and-coming mobile technology firms. Check it out at fiercewireless.com.

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