So how do you market a mobile OS that’s essentially a superficial upgrade to a years-old product that a sizable bloc of techies think is the worst thing, ever, period? You change its name! To “Windows Phone,” apparently.
Actually, according to The Inquirer, who claims to have heard this firsthand from Microsoft, all versions of Windows Mobile— from the extant 6.1 to the forthcoming, total-overhaul version 7—will be pulled under the Windows Phone umbrella, a move seemingly presaged by the announcement that the new Windows Marketplace for Mobile, will be open to all versions of the OS. That, and the fact that these same rumours were getting kicked around back in February, from equally credible sources, and accompanied by the odd use of the phrase on the company’s website. In other words, it looks like it’s going to happen, probably coinciding with the launch of 6.5.
From here this looks like a simple branding decision, and a mild one: In the brave new world of decent smartphone OSes, a mature “6.1” suffix betrays a stodginess that Microsoft is clearly trying to fight with 6.5, and hopes to completely shed with Windows Mobile 7, which promises to be in a different league than its predecessors. Of course, this won’t change the fact that Windows Mobile 6.5 is a seemingly panicked stopgap measure, nor will it make your 6.1-based phone—they still make these!—any less painful to perform basic tasks on. This all may sound harsh, but it’s also implicit in this move: If people don’t associate your brand name with something terrible, then you don’t have to behave like a cigarette company. [The Inquirer]