Reviews of Windows Mobile 6.5 have been published and things aren’t looking good. Motorola has already passed on it and I haven’t managed to find a positive review in the whole bunch.
Here are some choice bits from John Herrman’s review on Gizmodo:
Windows Mobile 6.5 isn’t just a letdown—it barely seems done. […] It’s a superficial update, and not a very thorough one. It’s an interim product, and a vain attempt to hold onto the thinning ranks people who still choose Windows Mobile despite not being somehow tethered to it until the tardy Windows Mobile 7 comes out, whenever that may be. And it won’t work.
I’ve never been too fond of Gizmodo but I can respect the fact that they get right to the point, the above quote lives within the first three paragraphs of the review.
Regarding the Windows Mobile Start Menu:
This one, though, feels more like a design concept than a final product. For example! The only tool you’re given to sort apps is a “Move to Top” command—no dragging, no alphabetical sorting, nothing except this bizarrely-chosen menu command that makes organizing apps feel like completing some kind of horrible puzzle game.
On the majority of user interface changes in Windows Mobile 6.5:
The remaining interface changes are subtle, and intended almost solely to make Windows Mobile 6.5 bearable to use without a stylus. (Though don’t get me wrong—most WinMo 6.5 devices will, damningly, still come with styluses.) It doesn’t really feel like a redesign—it feels like someone went through 6.1 and adjusted a few values. Add a few pixels of menu spacing here, some plasticky highlight graphics there, and BOOM. 6.5. Let’s go to lunch.
After looking through the screenshots of 6.5, it almost looks like Microsoft could only be bothered to fix areas that users will see most often. Go any deeper and it looks like a hybrid of 6.5 and past versions of Windows Mobile.
Herrman sums it up nicely with this:
I’d like to think that 6.5’s stunning failure to innovate is a symptom of a neglected project—maybe Microsoft just needed something, anything to hold people over until the mythical Windows Mobile 7 comes out, whatever it is.
No wonder the world’s biggest maker of Windows Mobile phones’ profits are down.
Update 10/9/09: Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Marketplace “copy protection” has already been cracked. And, the developer who circumvented it claims that it only took him 5 minutes to implement.
Update 10/14/09: Regarding the Microsoft/Danger Fiasco
The very existence of the project is also thought to have caused (or soon to be causing) problems with many partners of both Microsoft and Danger. Just by developing a self-branded phone, Microsoft is expected to mirror what occurred with the original Zune and alienate remaining Windows Mobile hardware partners, such as HTC. It may drive these supporters further towards Android, Symbian and other competing platforms, the newer source said.
Microsoft insists on keeping the project separate from from other teams within Microsoft, inevitably causing the Pink team to repeat work and ignore any advice from the Windows Mobile or Zune teams that could have benefited the Pink team in the long run. Microsoft’s mobile strategy is by far worse than any other company’s and, unless it gets changed, could render all of their efforts in the space completely useless.