Microsoft announces Windows Mobile 6

Barcelona (Spain) - Microsoft unveiled the next version of its smartphone operating system at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Windows Mobile 6 brings a range of improvements and new features, ranging from a new Internet Explorer web browser to the integration of Office and Windows Live applications.

Once considered as a simple, stripped down version of the PC Windows, Microsoft now promotes a more and more independent operating system for mobile devices that has developed into a platform solution. Windows Mobile 6, which will debut on commercial devices scheduled to launch in the second quarter of this year, offers a myriad of new features that the manufacturer hopes will propel the software ahead of competitors, especially RIM's Blackberry devices.

The new Windows Mobile has a decidedly more corporate focus, with collaboration functionality that takes advantage of a company's address book, email management that uses new features in Exchange Server 2007, support for Microsoft's Line-of-Business applications (based on the .NET framework and/or SQL server), as well as the ability to and gain access to information stored on Exchange Server, SharePoint and Universal Naming Convention (UNC) file shares.

The software now also works with trusted platform modules and implements secure access to software, data and networks. The company calls this technology "Information Rights Management," which ensures that only users with certain access rights can open and read protected files.

According to Microsoft, Windows Mobile 6 comes with a new mobile productivity suite that includes Word Mobile, Excel Mobile and Powerpoint Mobile. Outlook Mobile now supports HTML emails and the software's calendar allows users to manage their day through features such as the calendar bar, an out-of-office assistant and meeting attendees and status. The mobile Internet Explorer received a refresh with, according to Microsoft, "better support" for "popular webpages."

Windows Live is also making its way into the mobile platform. Microsoft said that online services such as Messenger, Contacts, Windows Live Mail and Search will be available. The mobile Messenger supports conference chats and calls.

Microsoft said that Windows Mobile 6 devices will be launching in the second quarter of this year. T-Mobile's Dash smartphone will be the first device in the U.S. to offer the new Microsoft software "within the next months."