Windows Phone 7: the enterprise application glitch

News 14 Oct, 2010

Microsoft’s new mobile OS looks good, but the lack of compatibility with older Windows Mobile apps will be a barrier for business, says Stephen Pritchard.

Stephen Fry likes Windows Phone 7. Granted, Mr Fry is not alone: the new operating system from Microsoft has plenty of polish, and a good line up of launch devices.

But Mr Fry does not run an enterprise IT department. Those that do may well be less happy. The problem is that applications written for Windows Mobile – Microsoft’s previous phone OS – won’t run. That even applies to programs developed for the current version, Windows Mobile 6.5. Not only that, but there is no upgrade path for Windows Mobile 6.5 phones to run Windows Phone 7.

Windows Mobile was starting to look long in the tooth, and Windows Phone 7 is based on some well-supported, albeit Microsoft-specific technologies, including .Net and the media platform Silverlight. So Microsoft-based IT shops should be fairly well placed to develop applications for the new phones. But that is not the same as being able to run applications that have already been bought, or written.

Microsoft conceded back in March that Windows Mobile 6.5 apps would not work on the new OS.

Microsoft will continue to make Windows Mobile 6.5 available to device developers, especially for those targeting the business market, but the company has offered no guarantees about how long that will continue. And with development efforts now focused on Windows Phone 7, there will be no updates or new features for older handsets.