Microsoft Shares Updated Windows Mobile Timeline

Microsoft is talking ship-date targets and feature plans for ‘Crossbow’ and ‘Photon,’ the next two versions of the Windows Mobile operating system

Microsoft’s Mobile and Embedded Devices division is moving toward more of an annual refresh schedule for its operating system releases.

According to a recent Microsoft executive’s presentation, Microsoft is readying the next two releases, code-named „Crossbow“ and „Photon,“ of its Windows Mobile operating system.

Crossbow, which Microsoft is endeavoring to deliver to cell phone and PDA providers by Q4 2006, will launch officially in the first or second calendar quarter of 2007. Crossbow will be the first operating-system update to Windows Mobile 5.0, the product formerly code-named „Magneto,“ which Microsoft delivered last year.

(Crossbow is not just a Windows Mobile code name. It also is the code name for technology under development by members of the company’s developer division that is designed to bridge Windows Forms (WinForms) and the Windows Presentation Foundation, or „Avalon“ Windows user-interface subsystem.)

Microsoft is working to deliver Photon, the successor to Crossbow, to cell phone and PDA providers by Q4 2007, and launch it officially in the first or second calendar quarter of 2008, according to slides from a Microsoft official’s March TechDays presentation. Photon will include a „new flexible shell, modular containers and the ‘Yamazaki’ Windows CE kernel,“ according to information on the slides.

Until recently, many Microsoft watchers believed Photon would be the successor to Windows Mobile 5.0, and that it would be released to manufacturing in calendar 2006.

According to blogger LocutusBorgMan, Microsoft officials acknowledged the Windows Mobile schedule change during the aforementioned TechDays presentation:

„As we considered the scope of the Photon release, the Crossbow schedule and goal of the long term roadmap, it was clear that adjusting the Photon schedule was also necessary. We, therefore, plan to make Photon available to OEMs in Q4 2007, to start the commercialization process.

„This adjustment should help enable OEMs to ship Crossbow devices throughout 2007 and provide necessary time to commercialize Photon devices for a 2008 release. This adjustment should also help enable us to base Photon on the next major release of Windows CE (‘Yamazaki’). ‘Yamazaki will provide an improved kernel, a new security model, and a number of other enhanced features.“

Microsoft is expected to continue to emphasize the push e-mail functionality provided by a combination of Windows Mobile and the add-on messaging and security feature pack that the company trotted out last fall. Going forward, according to one published report, Microsoft will be looking to make the feature-pack functionality part of the base Windows Mobile platform.

Microsoft also is said to be planning to make its recently released Office Communicator Mobile business instant-messaging client and other Office communications applications part of Crossbow and other future Windows Mobile iterations.