Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says the company is getting ready to launch a mobile operating system aimed at enterprise users soon. But don’t expect anything quite as dramatic a departure from earlier mobile software from Microsoft as Windows Phone 7. Because the new OS will be based on Windows Mobile 6.5… and next year the company plans to introduce a new version that’s based on Windows Phone 7.
The new OS will be called Windows Embedded Handheld, and it will likely support features that you won’t find on consumer oriented devices, such as a push-to-scan button for operating a barcode scanner.
Microsoft has been pushing Windows Phone 7 pretty heavily as a consumer oriented device, with social networking and Xbox Live integration. But the platform will also support Microsoft Exchange synchronization and other features that are important to enterprise users.
I’m guessing some of the main differences between Windows Embedded Handheld and Windows Phone 7 will be a streamlined, more business-like user interface and possibly support for third party skins or custom user interfaces — something which Microsoft seems to be discouraging for the consumer version of Windows Phone 7.
One of the first devices to ship with the Windows Mobile 6.5-based version of Windows Embedded Handheld will be the Motorola ES400, a ruggedized phone for enterprise customers.