Everything you need to know about Windows Mobile 7

MWC is a few weeks away – it starts on February 15 – and we’re expecting to see a new version of Windows Mobile, version 7, to be launched with hardware soon to follow. We’ve heard some rumors about potential improvements over the current 6.x codebase, but a developer has told us that this new version is so distant from the old WinMo that it is almost unrecognizable. The worst part? It is completely non-backwards compatible, meaning all WinMo apps are about go extinct.

First, WinMo 7 is essentially a copy of the Zune HD’s kernel. It comes in one screen size and will work best on OLED devices. Microsoft will give official specs to hardware makers and force them to comply or else refuse them access to the OS. This includes a regimented screen and RAM size as well as a minimum processor speed.

If you haven’t guessed, Microsoft is about to get all Apple up in this piece.

The UI looks just like the Zune HD’s with some phone controls built-in. The HD has defined the interface and the use case here, so expect a capacitive multi-touch screen with plenty of media controls.

Now for the nuts and bolts: WinMo 7 has no background processing and will use an Apple-like notification service. There is no system resource access and no threaded processes. In fact, there is no customization at all.

WinMo 7 will not run 6.x code. End of story. It is based on Silverlight and .Net. Everything save a few basic programs will not work under WinMo 7. There is no expectation that this will be a “business device” and the focus is currently on games including some XBox Live functionality for gaming and messaging. There will be a Microsoft App store with an easy approval process.

There is no visual voicemail, probably for patent reasons. As for developers, they’re kind of pissed. As far as we can tell they’re not quite sure they want to take the steps necessary to move over to the new platform. This is a Hail Mary pass and could mean huge changes in the WinMo ecosystem. This could also mean Zune sync software for the Mac, something that we expected when pigs flew.

Special thanks to our fearless tipster.