Why is it a turkey?
Hopes were high for Windows Mobile at the beginning of the year. Yet by March, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was already lowering expectations. "We have a significant release coming this year," he said. "Not the full release we wanted to have this year but we have a significant release coming this year with Windows Mobile 6.5." This was hardly an enthusiastic endorsement.
Microsoft announced at the beginning of September that phones running on 6.5 would arrive Oct. 6. The operating system got a big boost from LG, which said it would release a total of 13 new Windows Mobile phones by year-end. Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility launched Windows Mobile 6.5 phones, lending the OS some more carrier support. However, on the same day that Microsoft officially unveiled the release (along with Sprint Nextel launching a new 6.5 phone and the official launch of the Windows Marketplace for Mobile application storefront), Microsoft rival Google announced a partnership with Verizon for the carrier to support Google's Android mobile operating system. Guess which announcement got the most buzz?
Microsoft touted the enhancements of 6.5, including a redesigned Internet Explorer Mobile browser boasting a new engine, and built-in Adobe Flash Lite support for better rendering and completion of tasks. Handsets also arrived with Windows Live, enabling users to more effectively manage their social media behaviors across services including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, according to Microsoft.
Then the reviews started rolling in. "It's widely acknowledged by users, media, and even Steve Ballmer himself that Windows Mobile is in dire need of a ground-up revamp, and it's happening-but not quite yet," said Chris Ziegler at Engadget.
"Windows Mobile 6.5, we wanted to love you. We wanted you to come along and wash away the past, whisking away all signs of the antiquated 6.1 we've grown so tired of ragging on," wrote Greg Kumparak at Mobile Crunch. "We went into this review with the full hopes of emerging with a generally positive outlook. Sorry, Windows Mobile 6.5--it's just not going to happen."
And then there was this from Gizmodo's John Herrman: "Windows Mobile 6.5 isn't just a letdown--it barely seems done. It'll be a sad, long slog until April (or god forbid, December) when Windows Mobile 7, whatever it is, finally hits phones."
Even Ballmer seemed to acknowledge that 6.5 had missed the mark. "We know we have to kill on that one," he said in October, referring windows Mobile 7, due out in 2010.