Microsoft is at CTIA this week to make a slew of announcements related to the Marketplace, Windows Live, and Windows Mobile 6.5. Expect all the details during Robbie Bach's keynote; however, if you simply can't wait, jump the break and we'll feed you some preliminary information as well as a few screenshots.
More than twenty-five ISVs will announce support for the Marketplace. They include 3deep by LiteScape, Accuweather, AP Mobile, CNBC, Developer One, EA Mobile, Facebook, Gameloft, Glu Mobile, Handmark, Ilium Software, Jeyo Inc., Kinoma, Magmic, Melodis Corp., MySpace, Namco Networks, Pandora, PhatWare Corp., Resco, SBSH Mobile, ShoZu, Inc., Sling Media, Spb Software, Web Information Solutions, and Zagat Survey.
As you can tell, there are some popular applications from some prominent developers in that list. Facebook is one of them. The application, which will be made available as a free download later this month, will allow you to capture and upload video from your phone to your wall.
Microsoft has taken in a considerable amount of feedback, and amended its Marketplace policies so that developers will be free to submit application updates throughout the application's lifecycle at no extra cost. Customers will be able to purchase applications with a credit card, or have the costs appear directly on their phone bill. Additionally, customers will be able to return an application within 24 hours after the purchase for a full refund.
Windows Live for Windows Mobile
On the Windows Live front, the free and popular Windows Live for Windows Mobile application will be made available to a wider audience (twenty-five countries, to be exact). In addition, a new beta version of Windows Live Hotmail will be made available at m.mail.live.com, and feature full HTML support, an updated user interface, and a new search feature.
Windows Mobile 6.5 Personalization
Remember the Theme Generator Power Toy from the Pocket PC 2002 era? Well, Microsoft is bringing it back. A new and improved Theme Generator will be made available later this year, and support custom pictures as background images, and custom colours for Windows Mobile's navigation bar, scroll bar, and highlighted text.
Microsoft will also team up with two prominent design houses, Design Museum London and Council of Fashion Designers of America, to deliver a set of designer themes exclusive to Windows phones. (Hopefully, they're different to what's in the screenshots above and below, which we can only best describe as a digital flannel shirt.)
Windows Mobile 6.5 Upgrades
Microsoft has clarified the policy surrounding Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrades. Earlier in the year, we were treated to some upcoming Windows Mobile 6.1 devices, such as the Touch Diamond2 and Touch Pro2, which were promised Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrades at a later stage. It is worth noting that said upgrades are by no means constrained to upcoming Windows Mobile 6.1 devices. There may be instances where a partner could release an upgrade for an existing Windows Mobile 6.1 device, as long as the hardware meets the minimum requirements of a 400 MHz processor and 128 MB RAM. However, as of this moment, no such devices have been announced, and for better or worse, upgrade paths will be determined entirely by the partners involved, not Microsoft.