Microsoft aims for market share with Windows Mobile 6.5

Microsoft this week unveils Windows Mobile 6.5, with its new full-blown Web browser, IE Mobile 6, in a bid to stay competitive in the fast-changing mobile market

There's also a new lock screen, which prevents someone else from accessing the phone until a password is entered. The lock activates after a configurable period of inactivity. But this time, the phone even when locked will provide a user with much more information: alerts about incoming calls, new e-mails or voicemails, and the ability to unlock just that latest entry, for example.

A stage for IE Mobile 6

In some ways, the easier to use touch interface is the stage for IE Mobile 6, a major effort by Microsoft to bring the full Web to Windows-based phones. Microsoft is emphasizing the fact that the new browser renders Adobe Flash content flawlessly, unlike the iPhone's Safari, which still does not support Flash, which is widely used in Web pages.

Users can set the browser to render a full HTML Web site, or if the site has content specifically designed for mobile devices, to render that specialized format instead, according to Sullivan.

In a demonstration, IE Mobile 6 filled the large screen of a HTC touch phone with a complete standard Web page, in this case the homepage. Tapping a small "ghost" icon at lower right, brings up a set of browser control buttons (back, menu, keyboard, search, and so on).

Using Microsoft's newly announced My Phone hosted service, a 6.5 phone can back up, store, and synchronize contact and schedule information, as well as text messages, photos, documents and files. The goal is to blend together content and features from the user's Windows phone, PC, and Web-based services. Google offers a similar service and just announced support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, allowing users to hook up with Microsoft Exchange-based e-mail systems, and receive mail pushed out by Exchange.

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