Microsoft today confirmed that the Windows Mobile 6.5.3 release launching first with the Sony Ericsson Aspen greatly improves the platform's support for touchscreens. In addition to making buttons more touch-friendly, it adds support for capacitive touch of the sort seen in Android and the iPhone, making it much more responsive. Hooks have also been put in place for multi-touch, though this would still need phone builders to have an actual solution.
Most of the other changes center almost exclusively around touch and include a more consistent touch UI throughout the whole OS, such as the absence of tabs in many areas. Legacy apps even have a magnifier to reach buttons that were designed for a stylus, Microsoft says. Internet Explorer has been given smoother transitions in touch gestures as well as an overall speedup.
The improvements almost uniformly confirm the suspected nature of 6.5.3, which is to better position Windows Mobile as a competitor to hardware from Apple and Google's partners until the launch of Windows Phone 7 by end of the year.
The aging Microsoft OS has only supported imprecise resistive touch and in many cases has required a stylus in most areas. Only one Windows Mobile phone currently supports capacitive touch, the HTC HD2, and does so through extensive changes to the user interface and drivers that render Windows Mobile almost unrecognizable.