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Microsoft's Crossbow a Draw in 2007?

Analysts are now expecting that Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s next cut of its mobile operating system, codenamed "Crossbow," will arrive sometime in the middle of next year. Some industry pundits are predicting email, security, and communications upgrades in the revised Windows Mobile platform when it arrives.

"If it is announced at the end of the year, which is my prediction, then shipment won't be until mid-2007," says Gartner Inc. analyst Ken Dulaney.

"Last I heard it was still scheduled for the end of year," agrees Jack Gold, analyst at J.Gold Associates

Gartner's Dulaney stresses that he hasn't been briefed on Crossbow yet, but predicts that it will try to address some of the weaknesses he sees for enterprise users in Windows Mobile 5.0.

"First priority should be to upgrade the email client and security, which today is very weak relative to BlackBerry," Dulaney offers. Microsoft has already worked up an email update for Windows Mobile 5.0 with the Messaging & Security Feature Pack. It is not, however, available for many devices yet. (See No Push for the Q?.)

They must also fix the communications subsystem," opines Dulaney, talking about the "plumbing" that controls the various wireless and mobile connections that a device can make. "It's about where Windows 2000 was before Windows XP was introduced for mobile notebooks."

The vendor is also trying to make it easier to port code across multiple device types, according to Dulaney's Gartner colleague, Todd Kort: "One of the goals of Microsoft is to minimize -- or eliminate -- the distinction between the Windows Mobile 5 profiles for PDAs and smartphones. I don’t know if this will favor touchscreens or keypads, or make them equally available to both types of devices."

Redmond isn't saying anything about Crossbow yet. Natch.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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