Isn't it slightly ironic that the day after Microsoft unleashes Windows Mobile 6.5, the biggest UI refresh for God knows how long, Telstra and MS announce that they're creating a Telstra-themed skin for Windows Mobile 6.1 phones? Even more curious is that we won't actually see the skin on phones until April with the Motorola A3100 and May for the Xperia X1, which is just a couple of months before we can realistically expect to see WM6.5 hit handsets.Still, there are some aspects that should be incorporated into every Windows Mobile skin out there, like a shortcut button to turn your phone into a USB data modem.
And even though the Telstra press release says that even more phones will have the skin in the future, the question is if and how it will integrate with WM6.5 handsets.
Microsoft and Telstra unveil exclusive 'Telstra Interface' for Windows Mobile phones at Mobile World Congress 2009
New mobile interface gives easy "one click" access to popular Microsoft and Telstra applications and services on selected Windows Mobile devices
BARCELONA -- 17 February, 2009 -- In an Australian first, Microsoft and Telstra today unveiled the new, exclusive-to-Telstra, mobile user interface for selected Windows Mobile devices at Mobile World Congress 2009.
Mr Ross Fielding, Executive Director, Telstra Product Management said the Telstra Interface will give customers simple "one-click" access to the applications and services they regularly use on the home screen of their Windows Mobile phone via a set of touch?enabled menus and scrolling applets.
"The new Telstra Interface has been designed with our customers' needs in mind, bringing the most popular applications to the home screen, including address book and email, Microsoft Office Mobile, and Telstra mobile services including BigPond, Mobile FOXTEL from Telstra and Sensis Search," Mr Fielding said.
"Customised touch applets such as Today, Messaging, Slideshow, World Clock and Tasks will be available on the new interface via one-touch, providing targeted information to Australian consumer and business customers.
"The Telstra Interface also provides one touch access to USB data modem capability. This allows customers to connect their mobile to their PC and use the phone as a modem to access the internet via Telstra's Next G™ network."
Ms Natasha Kwan, General Manager, Mobile Communications Business, Asia, Microsoft Corporation said the openness of the Windows Mobile platform facilitated the development of the Telstra Interface.
"This unique interface is an example of how Microsoft's open approach to the mobile ecosystem provides our partners, like Telstra, the opportunity to innovate and create a differentiated user experience. The Telstra Interface has great mass market appeal while Windows Mobile has all the functionality, manageability and access to familiar applications, such as Office Mobile, for business users," Natasha Kwan said.
Ms Martha Bejar, Corporate Vice President, Communications Sector, Microsoft Corporation, said the new interface is the first step in a deep partnership where Telstra and Microsoft will collaborate for the benefit of their mutual customers.
"We are committed to partnering with Telstra to leverage our respective assets and collective strengths - delivering Microsoft solutions accessible via mobile phones and PCs in conjunction with Telstra's end-to-end support and network communication services. This relationship will redefine how integrated solutions can be delivered to Australian businesses to enable them to compete more effectively at a local and global level," Martha Bejar said.
The intention to form an alliance was announced by Microsoft and Telstra in November 2008 and the relationship will encompass: mobile devices and services; hosted business applications; and unified communications.
The Telstra Interface was developed in Australia by Microsoft partner, Pointui, a niche development company. The four-person team was chosen from a wide field and worked closely with Telstra and Microsoft to create the custom look and feel that will be available exclusively to Telstra customers.
"We're excited to work with Microsoft and Telstra to leverage our expertise in designing and developing specialised customer experiences on the Windows Mobile platform. We have developed a solution for Microsoft and Telstra that we hope will exceed the expectations of thousands of customers across Australia," said Shane Maiolo, Chief Executive Officer, Pointui.
The exclusive-to-Telstra interface is currently designed for Windows Mobile 6.1 and will be available on the Motorola A3100 and Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 mobile devices from mid April (Motorola A3100) and early May (Sony Ericsson Xperia X1). There are plans to make the Telstra Interface available on other Windows Mobile 6.1 handsets.