Microsoft Phasing Out Windows Mobile 6.x
Microsoft announced a transition plan this week to move those using various versions of its older Windows Mobile 6 operating systems onto its Windows Live SkyDrive storage service.
The move comes as Microsoft is winding down support for its Windows Mobile 6.x operating systems, according to an article by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley. Citing Microsoft sources, Foley reports that Windows Mobile 6.5.3 will be Microsoft's last Windows Mobile OS released. Moreover, support for Windows Mobile 6.x will end in about 1.5 years.
"Microsoft has said Windows Mobile 6.x support for customers ends January 8, 2013," Foley wrote. "End of distribution date (for Microsoft partners) is October 31, 2013 for smartphones using the WM 6.x operating system, and April 30, 2017 for embedded handheld devices using the WM 6.x core."
Apart from what Foley has picked up in her reporting, there doesn't appear to be many well publicized Microsoft declarations that it will end Windows Mobile 6.x. Microsoft released its current flagship Windows Phone 7 mobile OS in October and hasn't been too clear on how users might make the transition.
A spokesperson for Microsoft today confirmed the dates given to Foley for the end of support for Windows Mobile 6.x. She added that Microsoft will phase out its Windows Marketplace for Mobile site too.
"This week, Microsoft began notifying Windows Mobile 6.x customers that starting July 15, 2011, the company will begin phasing out the Microsoft My Phone and Windows Marketplace for Mobile services.
"On this date, the Windows Marketplace for Mobile website will be taken offline and users will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications for older Windows Mobile operating systems via the web. The Windows Marketplace for Mobile service will continue to be available on-device via the Marketplace client, however. The impacted Microsoft My Phone service and Web based Windows Marketplace are exclusive to Windows Mobile 6.x platforms."
Transition to SkyDrive
Microsoft posted a notice and a support article this week describing a transition from the Microsoft My Phone Service for Windows Mobile 6.x to Windows Live SkyDrive. In essence, Microsoft will automatically move contacts, text messages, calendar items and photos to Windows Live SkyDrive on Aug. 7, 2011. It will be up to users to move everything else before that date. So, users will have to move their own items such as documents, videos, music, tasks and favorite URLs or they won't be available.
In its FAQ as part of the announcement, Microsoft indicates that users can request physical media (DVD or CD) with their data if they can't move those files themselves. That offer will be available until Oct. 5, 2012.
Microsoft plans to shut down My Phone automatic backups on Aug. 7, 2011 and it plans to close the My Phone Web site on Oct. 6, 2011.
Microsoft provides additional information for Windows Mobile users at this Microsoft Answers Forum page.
SkyDrive 'Mango' Benefits
Microsoft offers free document and media file storage space on its Internet cloud-based Windows Live SkyDrive of up to 25 GB for each user. The service enables syncing for mail, contacts and calendar. Those using Windows Live SkyDrive with Windows Phone 7 and waiting for the so-called "Mango" update coming this fall will be seeing some improvements when using SkyDrive, according to Microsoft.
Users will be able to share SkyDrive-stored photos via e-mail, Microsoft Messenger (with Facebook) or text, according to a recent Microsoft blog post. In addition, users will be able to add captions to video stored on SkyDrive and share those videos with others. The same folder structure used in SkyDrive will also be available on the Windows Phone 7 Mango-based smartphone, Microsoft announced. In addition, users can search using the Windows Phone 7's Office hub to quickly find documents stored on Windows Live SkyDrive.
Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.