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Windows Mobile 6.5 Arrives, Mostly Disappoints

Most reviewers agree: Microsoft's new OS is mostly a superficial, cosmetic update, not the overhaul that was needed.

By Brennon Slattery, PC World
October 06, 2009 10:51 AM ET

PC World - The reviews of Microsoft's new mobile OS, Windows Mobile 6.5, are in -- and none of them are glowing. It seems that Windows Mobile 6.5 is more of a superficial cosmetic overhaul, not a bona fide upgrade capable of handling the mobile market's stiff competition.

John Herman of Gizmodo says, "Windows Mobile 6.5 isn't just a letdown -- it barely seems done." Herman continues to say things aren't much better underneath the hood, and a quick peek "reveals an OS that hasn't been fundamentally changed in years, and which bears a strong resemblance to Windows Mobile 6.1, and a startlingly not-weak resemblance to PocketPC 2002."

Staying far behind the race seems a reoccurring theme in Gizmodo's review. Herman also has strong words for Windows' version of the App Store: "This isn't even a 6.5-exclusive service, and just about any app written for 6.5 will work on 6.1 and 6.0, and vice-versa."

Herman's problems with Windows Mobile 6.5 are best summed up when he says the Zune HD is a better handset and it isn't even a phone.

Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat had slightly better impressions of Windows Mobile 6.5.

He calls it "a big step up from the crappy Windows Mobile experience of the past." He discusses mostly cosmetic details, such as the finger touchscreen interface; the App Store (which inexplicably has $20 apps); and Microsoft Office productivity you cannot find on other smartphones.

Finally, damning Windows with faint praise, Takahashi ends the article gabbing about how fantastic Apple iPhone is: "But for now, the iPhone has a number of advantages over Microsoft. The upshot: you can still get a much better experience with an iPhone, which has superior multi-touch capabilities and accelerometer-based controls that work wonderfully in some apps. And there's still far more choice available on the iPhone." Yikes. Sounds like a review for a different product.

Robin Wauters of TechCrunch discusses Windows Mobile 6.5's My Phone backup feature. "You can use Microsoft My Phone to backup all your data, including your contacts, calendar, photos, and more, to a password-protected website. When you switch to a new Windows phone, or you lose (data on) your current one, you can head to the website to restore documents, contacts, music, and anything else you synced in just a few clicks." Calling the download a "no-brainer," TechCrunch appears positive in its assessment of one of Windows Mobile 6.5's features.

Matthew Miller of ZDNet flat-out calls Windows Mobile 6.5 a "disappointment." Miller gets frustrated with the new start menu, which, instead of being a drop-down bar like the start menu on a PC, has an iPhone-esque homescreen. The lack of customization makes Miller use his caps lock key: "You CANNOT place icons where you want to, you CANNOT add or remove icons, and you CANNOT create folders and manage the icons to create an efficient device. IMHO, this is so ridiculous that I see little value in this new Start menu scheme and find it to be worse than what we have on previous Windows Mobile operating systems."

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