We have now seen some pictures and videos of an early beta version of the new Windows Mobile 6.5, romoured to be coming some time in the second half of 2009.
The question most people will ask is – whats new? Here is what we noticed:
Obviously the most immediate change is the addition of the sliding panels interface to Windows Mobile Professional. This is implemented as a Today screen plug-in similar to TouchFlo3D, and uses the same type of engine as the Sliding Panels on Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard, meaning customization should be easy. It also means it is simple to revert to the standard today screen or any other plug-in if desired.
The feature much demoed in the videos is the scrolling interface, which has all the hallmarks of kinetic scrolling as found classically on the iPhone. Unfortunately this did not mean the end of scroll bars, which are still widely present in the OS.
Next there is a new locking screen, which uses the Slide to Unlock feature, again as seen first on the iPhone. The locking screen however is slightly more useful, showing icons for missed calls and new e-mails.
Another app demoed is the new Pocket Internet Explorer, called version 8 in the videos. It features smooth scrolling, an indicator which shows you your position on the page when scrolling in zoomed in mode, a new page load indicator. It is also the one app which benefits from a lack of scroll bars.
The zoom/scroll behavior also carries over to other applications like Pocket Excel, and this is apparently due to a new zoom engine.
The application screenshot shows two interesting applications – Market Place and My Phone. Both of these could be 3rd party apps or related to Microsoft’s new services.
Of note is that the OS runs pretty fast and smoothly on a device released on 2004, which should be an indication that the user experience on today’s devices is likely to be pretty good.
While the core is clearly Windows Mobile 6.5 we do not yet know how many additional modules Microsoft will replace on the released ROM, and the final OS could look much different from what we see now. In short, the OS is likely still to be a work in progress and we can only make our final judgment once we see it on shipping device.