Microsoft to pit Windows Mobile 6.5 and 7 against one another?

According to Digitimes, Microsoft will be using a “dual-platform” strategy to compete with Android and the iPhone. 6.5, due to be rolled out October 1, will stay alive just to compete with Android, while WinMo 7 will compete with the iPhone. I don’t think this is as shocking as Gizmodo does, but I certainly don’t see the wisdom in having dueling OSes. Dueling salsas, maybe.

On the other hand, I see the necessity: Windows Mobile is entrenched in its current form and that inertia is going to be difficult to overcome. At the same time, there’s pressure to compete at a lower level with a lighter and savvier OS — something 6.5 really isn’t able to pull off (despite looking nice).

What to do, what to do? Microsoft is between a rock and a hard place, but I think keeping a “legacy” system alive is a bad idea — as Microsoft has proven over and over in various arenas. I’d say take the Palm route: have an emulator or “classic mode”! Take 6.5 off the table, focus on 7, but make sure you’ve got enough soft back-compatibility to let businesses make the changeover.

With luck 6.5 will be nice enough, and run fast enough, at the end of 2010, that it will be a viable option for lower-end smartphones. We shall see.

[via GigaOm and others]