As Microsoft inches closer to finalizing the Windows Phone 7 operating system, it is continuing to roll out applications of interest to the existing Windows Mobile 6.x user base. On May 11, Microsoft’s Bing team announced it was introducing tweaks to the Bing application on legacy Windows Phone devices, as well as new turn-by-turn navigation that builds on Bing Maps and Tellme voice technologies.
“We’re happy to announce two new features to the Bing app for Windows phones. The first is a redesign to the home page. We changed the navigation to give people faster access to common searches, such as Movies and Traffic. The second feature is turn-by-turn navigation for Windows 6.x phones, powered by Bing Maps. We took advantage of the Microsoft Tellme team’s expertise in voice applications to deliver an amazingly lifelike voice experience for the turn-by-turn navigation. If you have a Windows phones on Sprint, T-Mobile, or AT&T you can use the voice guided navigation”
The Bing home page for Windows Mobile 6.x phone users has gotten a face-lift, as well as improved navigation “to give people faster access to common searches, such as Movies and Traffic,” according to a Bing Community blog post.
When Microsoft rolled out its Bing application for the iPhone late last year, a number of Windows Phone customers complained that the iPhone app was far nicer looking and more useful than the Bing for Windows Phone one. Microsoft is going to continue to support Windows Phone customers running Windows Mobile 6.x for a few years to come. (I’ve asked for a more precise date; stay tuned.) But the Mobile team is putting almost all of its backing behind Windows Phone 7 and its successors, which run a different and incompatible (though still Windows Compact-based) operating system.
To those wondering why Microsoft would deliver a version of Bing for the iPhone — and not decide to make it a WinMo app only, in an attempt to keep more users in the Windows Mobile/Windows Phone fold — don’t forget Microsoft isn’t really one big company. It’s six or seven different companies, loosely joined, with each business unit doing whatever it takes to build market share and profits for itself. And the iPhone is gaining share while Windows Mobile is … not.