back to article Windows Mobile 6.5 ships today

Today’s the day that Microsoft finally unveils the latest incarnation of its mobile phone OS - Windows Mobile 6.5. So what should you expect? Here’s Register Hardware’s quick guide to the latest version’s key features. WM_01 Smartphones running Windows Mobile 6.5 are called, simply, Windows Mobiles While previous versions …


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  1. iamapizza

    Moar Infoh!

    Did you guys try Opera Mobile on it, all seem OK? I don't know why anyone would want to use that grotesque IE browser on WinMo.

    I have an HTC TyTN II, but I seriously doubt if they're going to upgrade the 6.1 on it to 6.5. As much as I begrudge Apple, I will hand it to them - they got the concepts of updates nicely done. I do understand that with an 'open' OS like WinMo (not hardware dependent), updates are probably a manufacturer's responsibility, but I also think that they can achieve a degree of separation - a software layer that can be updated and the hardware/ROM that we've got to flash once in a while.

    While we're on the subject of a new OS on your phone, you should have a look at, once you get it up and running, it's surprisingly responsive, nice and fast.

  2. Matthew 4


    i wonder if i can upgrade my xperia X1 to run it?

  3. Andy Moore 1

    Better options out there

    Even if you want/have to stay with Windows Mobile putting something like SBP mobile shell on it does a better job (probably costs less too if you take into account sorting out the problems 6.5 is bound to bring up)

    Come on Palm, sack you hardware QA chaps, get someone like HTC to make your phones so there is some good hardware to match the WebOS.

  4. Jimmy Floyd
    Gates Horns

    Crunch time

    I've had a Windows Mobile / Pocket PC / Smartphone (in whichever guise was relevant for the time) for about 6 years. This is Microsoft's last chance as far as I am concerned.

    I love it for many reasons, not least of which is the customisability which does not fit into the Apple / iPhone culture but which might be a part of Android. WM6.1 is, however, let down by UI and if this last incarnation doesn't fix it (or if I can't upgrade my current ROM) then I won't be waiting around for WM7....

  5. Martin Lyne


    "WM 6.5 uses Internet Explorer Mobile for browsing the web. The app is based on version six of desktop IE".


    Oh wait.. you're serious?

  6. The BigYin

    I had a WM phone once...

    ...never again. NEVER. AGAIN.

    Bloody thing kept crashing, forcing me to yank the battery and get it to hard reset.

    And it was so slow. Not just slow or even /SLOW/, but S---L---O---W---! You could count a second or two at least between action and response.

    Utterly pathetic.

    Utterly useless.

    It was (is?) the worst phone OS I have ever had the displeasure of having to endure. I just hope MS does not get a serious foothold in the market or it will regress 10 years and innovation will be stifled.

  7. therebelious1
    Thumb Down


    i'm about to fall over with excitement, yawn......

  8. Sampler

    Fingers crossed

    HTC release the update to Touch Pro 2 - can't wait to update :)

    Otherwise I guess it's off to XDA Developers for a less than official upgrade ;)

  9. tKe

    Windows Mobile 6.5.1

    I'm currently running a leaked build of 6.5.1 (build 23420) on my HTC Touch Pro and can say the UI improvements in the small step up from 6.5 are great. It's just a shame MS couldn't hold off for them to stabilise before releasing 6.5 in its current stop-gap form.

    Although you say there are not many changes from WM 6.1 (which I agree there are not) the changes that have been made to the phone make it a lot easier to use in day-to-day life.

    I would however much prefer HTC to release some Android ROMs for the Touch Pro - but I can't see that happening any time soon. Oh what a wonderful world it would be if you could buy the hardware and choose which OS you wanted to run (WM, Symbian or Android - I can't see WebOS or iTouchMySelf being allowed on any old phone).

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Early access

    I've had a look at this already. Whether I have seen the very latest version, I don't know, but what I did see I would describe as "half-arsed".

    They have actually fixed very little; the differences between 6.1 and 6.5 are small. You'll see far greater changes on a custom UI such as for example HTC TouchFlo 3D.

    The old clock screen is still there for setting alarms - about as finger unfriendly as you can imagine, especially if you only have a 2.6" display. Most of the other old screens are still there with there sylus sized check-boxes.

    On the plus side, they seem to have fixed a lot of bugs in exchange-sync at long last. This now seems to work properly, although whether this was a direct fix or a side effect of something else (like better memory management), I don't know.

    Too little too late for me. My next phone will be an Android.

  11. Daniel 1

    Internet Explorer 6....

    Broken Box Model? Meet Tiny Screen Display!

    Notorious security flaws? Meet the Flash 10 plugin, for mobile web browsing!

    (Web Developer, meet lots and lots of basic cross-browser testing and conditional commenting... just when you thought you might be able to wave goodbye to all that.)

  12. MarkOne


    Not sure if anyone actually cares...

  13. AdamW


    Apps cost to much to be convenient, if some of these apps were £1 i would buy them.

  14. Bassey

    Bit out of date, aren't we?

    Whilst I agree that there is little, if anything, to get excited about with WM6.5, the version you're showing here is WAY out of date. For a start, the honeycomb thing was dropped back in May. The "soft-keys" at the bottom have changed beyond all recognition too. For me, the only change that has actually made any difference is that the pop-up menus are much bigger and more finger-friendly (yawn).

    Then again, the main strength of Windows Mobile over it's competitors is that you don't need to see the default shell if you don't want to. Personally, I run Touch Flow 3D but you can choose Mobile Shell 3.5, PointUI, Winterface or any of the others. You see, Mr Jobs doesn't own my phone. I do.

  15. Mark Bailey 3


    Does the phone support multi-touch? Does it run WPF? What are the hardware requirements to run it? How much does each licence cost?

  16. bygjohn


    "WM 6.5 uses Internet Explorer Mobile for browsing the web. The app is based on version six of desktop IE"

    FFS, *more* IE6?

    As for the rest, I don't exactly think Apple will be quaking in their boots...

  17. paul brain


    'WM 6.5 uses Internet Explorer Mobile for browsing the web. The app is based on version SIX of desktop IE'

    I stopped reading after that.

    One word to Microsoft .... ANDRIOD

  18. IT specialist
    Thumb Down

    What is wrong at Microsoft?

    What happened to biting the hand that feeds?

    The latest Windows Mobile 6.5 is gravely disappointing. After waiting over a year, it has hardly changed since version 6.1. What has Microsoft been doing all this time?

    They've put some bigger buttons in, to get finger touch working, though some icons are still small and require the ye-olde stylus pen. Multi-touch gestures don't work at an OS level, and multi-touch doesn't work with Internet Explorer. Now I know what Steve Ballmer meant when he said "we screwed up with Windows Mobile".

    Because so little work has been done on Windows Mobile 6.5, and they have over 1000 coders working on it for over a year, I can only speculate that they must be working on something else. I predict that Microsoft is doing what Palm did, that is, working on a completely different mobile operating system that will come out in 2010, and the current Windows Mobile OS as we know it will be ditched.

  19. IndianaJ

    Don't they know?


    "The app is based on version six of desktop IE"

    is bad. Even a bit retarded.

  20. Anon the mouse


    From what I've seen from playing around, there have been some things fixed behind the scenes too as that bloody annoying lag is gone.

    But why IE6.....why?

  21. Jimmy Floyd



    Brilliant! I'm now genuinely excited about the possibility of moving my TyTN II / Kaiser / Vario III to Android instead of forking out for a new phone (yet). Thank you for that.

  22. tKe

    IE Mobile 6 != IE 6

    Can I please make something very clear ... IE Mobile 6 is NOT based on IE 6. They use different layout engines and have always been two very different horses.

    IE Mobile 6 is miles better than the previous incarnations of IE Mobile. Saying that I still prefer to use Opera (which is running fine for me on WM 6.5.1).

    Also - To those playing with pre-release WM 6.5 code, the latest builds (greater than 23016 I believe, though the cut off may have been before then) are actually builds of 6.5.1, 6.5 was code-complete and has been with OEMs for a while (without the redesigned soft-buttons etc).

  23. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    @ iamapizza

    I believe you need a Java VM to run Opera Mini on Windows Mobile (confirmed, as I see the downloads as jad/jar files.) However, IBM has pulled the free version of WebSphere Everywhere Mobile Edition, which is the Java VM for WM. v6.something can be found if you dig enough (I found it, thankfully.) Handango has a $25 version available, supposedly.

    In short, Mini Opera is not much of an option for some WM users. Sadly. I run it on my SE K850i and K790a. I see Opera Mini 5beta is available, so I am about to give that a run.

    Paris, available, so I might give her a run as well...

  24. Gaz 6


    Welcome to 1998..NOT! The latest hardware and windows mobile actually rarely crashes, locks up or runs slowly.

    I have a Touch Pro and couldn't be happier - it's quick, useful, and very business oriented. I'm not limited to loading what anyone says I can, I can tether and have always been able to, can patch the phone to override stupid Outlook security controls, I've had MMS forever (don't ever use it tho), and with Touch Flo 3D the interface is half decent. I still have to hand it to Apple for polish and app store control, but that's it.

    And I have a goddamn *REAL* keyboard.

  25. captain veg

    No Java VM required

    Opera Mini isn't really an option for WM users because there is a native version of the browser for that platform. It's just about the only reason I have even considered trying a WinMo device.


  26. Daniel 1

    Opera Mini?

    You only run Opera Mini on reduced featured handsets. On most of the machines WM is aimed at you'd use Opera Mobile. In fact, my understanding is that many handset manufacturers intend to ship with a copy of Opera Mobile installed. HTC certainly intend to on the Pure.

  27. Daniel 1

    And as for this layout engines business...

    Yes, IE Mobile has never used either the Tasman engine, nor the Trident engines (the ones used by IE Windows and IE Mac, respectively). Instead, it has employed that weird 'thing' they developed in-house in Windows Mobile division.

    Now, the Weird Thing has never really got page rendering particularly right - and doesn't seem to be doing so, now. Compare the Trident VI engine (from recent builds of IE 8), rendering the Acid 2 test (which it passes perfectly, of course), to the odd assemblage of coloured lego bricks, delivered by IE 6 Mobile against the same test.

    Are these products even being made by the same company?

    And therein lies part of the problem, because, when presented with conditional comments that stipulate "If IE 6" (to include correctional styling rules for IE6/Trident desktop version), the Weird Thing on 6.5 Mobile will now attempt to import and apply those rules as well! This means that web developers are robbed of one of their main tools in correcting rendering errors in IE6/Trident, because the Weird Thing will think the developer is talking to it, too.

    (Many web developers will, at this point, no doubt be hoping that Windows Mobile's market share remains at its current 'robust' levels of growth... that way, they may never have to worry about any of this crap.)

    You see, the version of IE being shipped in WM 6.5 is actually a rush job, originally intended for the Chinese market. It has been included in 6.5 because a revised rendering engine is still causing handset crashes. Why can't they port Tasman or Trident to Windows Mobile, you may ask (other than selfish pride, hubris, and a desire to "get one back at The Man", over in Windows main division)? It surely can't be beyond the wit of even those guys in Mobile, to do so? After all, Operasoft have ported their 'Presto' engine to just about anything with a screen on it - and when you talk to Presto, you more or less know what to expect from it!

  28. Monty Burns

    IE 6/65/who cares?

    Does anyone use IE anyway?

    Im running 6.5 on my Acer M900 and I have never used IE. Opera all the way .......


    Isn't it great having a CHOICE of browser ? ;-)

  29. Dustin 1

    Opera mobile....mmmmmmmmm

    Opera mobile IS sweet, tabbed browser on the phone................soooo nice. Otherwise, WM6.5 is an improved experiece overall. Definitely more fingerfriendly and merits a capacitive screen, if only you could have capacitive AND a stylus (this is coming though). I am on my second WM phone XV6700->Omnia and my 3rd iteration of windows mobile, and this is the best so far. It still fails to meet the standards set by Apple and Google, but I knew this would be the case. Oh, and even though IE6 for mobile IS different than Desktop IE6, some sites seem to think that it is desktop IE6, try youtube on IE and you will see a funny message. If only MS would make a slightly larger version of the Zune HD, slap the phone on it and merge the Mobile Marketplace with the Zune. I'd rather have a Zune with a phone tacked on, then what I'm hearing will be implemented, which is a Zune App tacked on Windows Mobile.

  30. kizito_k
    Thumb Down


    When Microsoft launches a new operating system, it does not automatically force people who get it to have to buy new PCs. However, for Windows Mobile, the story is different. It is an excuse for handset manufacturers to force people to buy new handsets when some of the existing newer ones could just as easily handle an upgrade to the new software! Shameful behaviour! I am surprised consumer organisations have not figured this one out!

  31. Clive Galway
    Gates Halo

    Liking 6.5

    Been using 6.5 on my touch pro for a couple of months and it is much nicer.

    AFAIK there are multiple 6.5 development threads - a stable and a feature rich version. Stuff is tried out in the feature rich one and some stuff is merged with the main branch, so you may see radically different versions.

    The main improvements for me are the finger scrolling built in is very nice, it seems to work in pretty much anything, including pop-up menus, which are also now big and finger friendly. You can also use left and right swipes to switch tabs. This being at the OS level, old apps suddenly become much more finger friendly.

    Anyone interested in giving it a go should head over to - if there is a version of 6.5 for your phone you will most likely find it there.

    I agree in part with what some people are saying about 3rd party UIs such as SPB and PointUI, but you cannot really expect them to re-write all the apps you use (ie outlook etc) so they are finger-friendly. With WM going the way it is, they have less and less to code, leaving them to concentrate on the main homescreen (The WM 6.5 one still sucks).

    I use PointUI, and have certainly noticed that when you do have to go outside the PointUI interface and use the default WM apps, the difference is not as big as it used to be. The new version of pocket outlook is just as usable as PointUIs kinetic scrolling version and has all the options in it you don't see in PointUI's visually flashy remake.

    Yes, WM has taken way too long to get to where it is, and unfortunately needed to be shown a couple of lessons in usability by apple, but ultimately I think it is still better than the iPhone, and getting better every day, but at least with a WM phone you can do what the hell you want with it, rather than the limited choices apple bestow upon you. Now I couldn't lay the same comparison to android, but it's not android phones taking all the damned market share because of iSheep now, is it?

  32. whiteafrican

    Agree with Clive Galway

    6.5 is pretty good - had an XDA devs rom on my HTC TD2 for a few months now. It's by no means perfect, but it is now much more finger-friendly than 6.0/6.1 and it still gives you the flexibility of WinMo (i.e. the ability to change or install, well, pretty much anything, cf. the Apple "our customers shouldn't be allowed to mess with their own phones" approach).

    Will be interesting to see how it shapes up on the HTC Touch HD 2, with a capacitive screen... one area that the previous HTC phones have lagged behind the iPhone badly is responsiveness of their resistive screens. Hopefully that will now be a thing of the past.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Windows Marketplace for Mobile

    Just reading the Ts&Cs for the Marketplace and turned up this little pearl:

    "9. ..... Microsoft may .... b) remove any application from Windows Marketplace and/or disable copies of such application on your device..."

    So like Apple, Amazon et al, they are giving themselves the right to kill / delete anything they sell you without any ability for you to veto the operation.

    Why would anyone sign up for such draconian conditions when the same products are available from other app stores that don't think they have the right to cripple what they sold you.

  34. angelos

    Save Yourself the trouble -- get a smarter smartphone

    Living the smartphone dream...

    I guess you could say I was chasing the smartphone dream. I sure thought it would be nice to reduce the number of devices I was carrying around with me. I can have a GPS, Internet, Phone (with a decent keyboard) and a portable media player in one device? Please take my money.

    Now I have a smartphone and I guess I'm less than thrilled. The phone, right out of the box, is sluggish and feels slow. I would say I have to soft reset almost once a day due to some lock-up or general unresponsiveness. The internet experience is ok, but not even close to a desktop experience. The overall performance of the email/text messaging is so bad that most of the time I actually long for my last phone - I could actually read and respond to a message using T9 on my old phone faster than the text messaging software even loads up and shows me the message on my smartphone. As far as finding applications to add to it, I guess I can say that there sure is a lot of them, but a lot don't seem to work very well and all of them suffer by sharing in the phone's overall difficult to use UI.

    In case you haven't guessed yet - Its a windows mobile phone. I couldn't be more disappointed - my phone does everything I wanted it to, but it doesn't do a single one of them thing well. The UI pretty much requires a stylus to navigate (flashback to when iPaqs were actually cool). You can try and operate it with your finger, but the accuracy isn't good enough and the design of the UI clearly only focuses on working with the stylus – especially all the tiny buttons along the edges and corners. Even a lot of lower priced phones (barely smartphones at all) have better touch response and better overall performance than my smartphone.

    Let be clear about what I'm not - I'm not some sort of anti-Microsoft shill, in fact I choose a windows mobile phone based on what I thought was a focus on better UI and customer experience from MS in general (especially the core OS and Office teams.) What I've found is that windows mobile is so far behind what people expect, and not even close to what they want. I have a hard time finding anyone now who tells me they love their windows mobile phone - especially anyone who has used one of the other "smart" phones.

    At this point I actively recommend against any windows mobile device whenever anyone mentions they're shopping for a new phone. I hope I've saved my friends a few headaches by steering them to different non-windows phones.

    I could continue on, addressing the sub-par media player, the unbelievably slow and buggy synchronization, the poor bluetooth performance and more awful UI but I think this is enough to get the point across.

    I am somewhat confident that this post will be removed, and I am understanding of why you might do so, but I hope that what this represents - a disappointment and dissatisfaction of a technophile user who is trying to ring the warning bell "Windows mobile will be irrelevant - in the not too distant future unless it re-invents itself as a serious player" and I've seen no indication that this is true.

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