Microsoft has confirmed in a preview of Windows Mobile 6.5 that version 7 of the mobile OS will include multi-touch and will be targeted at the same high-end market as Apple's iPhone or most current Android phones. The company promises to the Inquirer that multi-touch will be a core feature of Windows Mobile 7 and that many of the experiences of competing phones will be "knocked in the different realm" of Microsoft's new platform.
At the same time, Microsoft also admitted that it's targeting the very high end and has been setting high specifications for the first phones that will launch with the new software. Calling 7 a "premium" experience, a spokesman said it will actually co-exist with the just-launching 6.5 release rather than replace it as all Windows Mobile releases have done in the past. While it's shipping on high-end phones like the HTC Touch Diamond2 (shown in the video), 6.5 will eventually be reserved just for budget phones while 7 will only take its place once the hardware is inexpensive enough.
The OS approach is in stark contrast to that for most operating systems. Apple, Google and Symbian all typically ship a near-identical version of their core software on more than one device and normally only have slight differences between them, such as the absence of phone-related apps on the iPod touch or Symban S60 5th Edition's touch-oriented features.
Windows Mobile 6.5 has been acknowledged by Microsoft as a stopgap release and primarily adds a few more touchscreen-ready interface elements, an accurate HTML web browser and direct integration with Windows Marketplace for Mobile, Microsoft's attempt to shadow the success of the iPhone's App Store as a central software portal.