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A Microsoft executive reportedly told a U.K. audience that the next major revision of the company's smartphone software, Windows Mobile 7, will be out this time next year.
The revelation came during a Q&A at the Connect! Technology summit in London in early December, according to several published reports, including one by Mobile News.
"When Apple came on to the scene a couple of years ago, it threw away the rulebook and reinvented it," Phil Moore, Microsoft's U.K. head of mobility, was quoted as having told the audience, complimenting Apple's development of a phone that was "very iconic ... with a very good user interface."
Windows Mobile 7 aims to "redress the balance," he added. However, it will take time to deliver, with Moore saying that the OS has been pushed back until late in 2010.
Little remains known about what Windows Mobile 7 except that it will have a multitouch user interface, however. Moore's comments echoed that plan, adding that the design would give business and consumer users a "much easier" touch-based UI, according to Mobile News.
If that's accurate, Moore's timeline would provide some of the most concrete information to date on Windows Mobile 7's arrival.
Microsoft's handset partners began shipping phones based on Windows Mobile 6.5 in early October. Still, many observers view 6.5 as a placeholder while Microsoft rushes to ready a serious challenger to the Apple iPhone.
The company also this year launched its own online applications store for Windows Mobile applications -- named Microsoft Marketplace for Mobile -- in the wake of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) continued success with its own App Store.
In addition to traditional Windows Mobile smartphones, there have also been persistent rumors of a Microsoft project codenamed "Pink," that have the company releasing phones under its own brand.
A Microsoft spokesperson declined to provide corroboration for the stories.
"We can't confirm the context or content of the statements that were made in London recently," the spokesperson told InternetNews.com. "All we can say is nothing has changed -- we're working on future versions but for now our focus is Windows Mobile 6.5."