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Windows Mobile 6.5: Worth Upgrading?

Updated Look and Feel

There are plenty of new phones launching with Windows Mobile 6.5, including the HTC XXX Leo with the first iPhone-style capacitive screen. But for the first time in Windows Mobile history, you don't have to get a new phone to get the operating system. You won’t be able to upgrade every Windows Mobile phone, but compared to the spotty availability of upgrades for previous versions, things are looking much better. Indeed, you can upgrade many recent phones and you won’t have to wait too long to do it.

Yes, a Windows phone is still a Windows Mobile phone. Yes, this is a relatively minor release–and one that has taken rather longer than perhaps it should have. But Microsoft has been using the time since it finished Windows Mobile 6.5 back in April to get operators, developers, and phone manufacturers on the same page, ready to launch this month for new phones and upgrades.

We upgraded both of the big-screen Windows Mobile phones we looked at recently with the 6.1 operating system, using publicly available updates from HTC and Toshiba. The feature list includes a new user interface, the Internet Explorer Mobile 6 browser, Microsoft My Phone and the Windows Mobile Marketplace services, and tools that allow you to record your phone calls. If your phone has a shell from the manufacturer or network, like HTC TouchFlo, you get an updated look for that, too. Look for extras, like being able to draw on screen to open the browser or dial a favorite contact.