The Future of Windows Mobile

Since BackCountry Navigator runs on Windows Mobile, it is appropriate to consider the future of the Windows Mobile platform and what it means for applications like BackCountry Navigator.  

Windows Phone 7 has been announced, displayed at the world Mobile Conference, and shown off in many fancy pictures. 

Some Windows Mobile History

Microsoft was on top of the Mobile device world when it was in the enterprise, back when a mobile device was considered a "PDA" and devices with phone capability were still a niche category. 
However, they have fallen behind in the user experience and slow to recognize that consumers (non-enterprise people like you and me) actually have used their devices. 

Since then, IPhone has come along to capture both mindshare and market share in the consumer market, and has changed the way that people think about their phones and apps. Android is also rising as a significant competitor to both Apple and Microsoft. 

Windows Phone 7 announcement

And now, in a move that seems overdue in the industry, Microsoft has a announced a fancy new finger friendly and consumer friendly phone, quite unlike the ones you see now. You can preview it here.   

Windows Mobile 7 Phone

Microsoft plans to continue its 6.5.x phone series semi indefinitely for stylus (resistive) touch screen devices. Non touch screen Windows Mobile Phones are likely to die off slowly. Meanwhile, Windows Phone 7 and beyond will focus on the finger friendly (capacitive) touch screen phones. 

Future of Apps and Development

What does this mean for apps and developers? Will any Windows Mobile 6 apps run on Windows Phone 7? Do they have to be completely rewritten? More details are to be available this month, but those questions are being answered.

Charlie Rangel: Different means better.

So will BackCountry Navigator 2.X run on Windows Phone 7? No. 
Would it have to be completely rewritten to work? Yes. 

This is not all bad news. There is hope for a better development environment to make apps better and faster. This is good, because Microsoft's expensive tools are actually behind the open source tools in some ways.

The Future

What phone OS will be on top a few years from now? The battle is fierce, but research suggests that there will continue to be a rather diverse landscape:

Phone OS market share predictions for 2012

What does it mean for BackCountry Navigator? BackCountry Navigator on Android continues to be our highest priority for at least the next 3-4 months. Getting a return on investment will require more Android users than we have ever had on Windows Mobile. If that effort succeeds, there is a chance to address more platforms and more functionality than we have previously seen. To see what readers of this blog have said about their future Phone plans, see this survey result.

Mobile OS Survey 

It is nice to know that the mobile world has more opportunities, and challenges, ahead.