Microsoft to add yet another smartphone OS this year

The new OS will allow a migration path from Windows Mobile, unlike the forthcoming Windows Phone 7

Microsoft will release a new mobile OS for enterprise handheld devices later this year, the company said Thursday. The Windows Embedded Handheld OS will come out later this year and be based on the Windows Mobile 6.5 technology, said David Kelley, product unit manager for Windows Embedded at Microsoft, at an event in New York.

In 2011, the company will release a new version of Windows Embedded Handheld, which will be based on Windows Embedded Compact 7 OS, Kelley said. The OS will feature a richer and immersive user experience, and improve on reliability and security features, Kelley said.

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The company wants to provide backward compatibility and a clear upgrade path from Windows Mobile 6.5 to the upcoming operating systems, Kelley said. That should extend the life cycle of existing Windows Mobile devices such as smartphones.

Microsoft announced Windows Embedded Compact 7 last month as the next generation of the Windows Embedded CE platform. The OS can be used in embedded systems such as in set-top boxes and slates.

The company has previously announced the Windows Phone 7 OS for smartphones. Microsoft's focus on consumer mobile devices will continue through the Windows Phone brand, Kelley said. It's unclear if the Windows Embedded Handheld announcement means that Windows Phone 7 will not support enterprise capabilities originally promised for that OS, or if Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows Phone 7 will compete with each other for business users.

The announcement came at the launch of Motorola's ES400 Enterprise Digital Assistant, which is a smartphone designed for enterprise use. It runs on the Windows Mobile 6.5 OS.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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