Windows Mobile 6.5 team lacked time to polish UI; confirm no Silverlight

While Windows Mobile devices have their strong points, the platform's UI has longed looked like the third-class citizen compared to rivals.  Windows Mobile 6.5 will go some small way to addressing that, but even the team behind the smartphone OS themselves admit that they lacked the time to give the upcoming refresh the visual makeover it needs. 

The WM6.5 developer team sat down for a 45 minute roundtable at TechEd 2009, to confirm UI rumors, discuss Widgets and why they count as "grown up" applications, and admit that no, Silverlight won't be integrated with the platform.  It's a surprisingly honest interview, but if we're fair it doesn't leave us particularly enthused about WM6.5.

Video roundtable after the cut

"The reason why we couldn't complete the interface on Windows Mobile 6.5 is because of time. We only spend what, eight months, nine months, to build 6.5 from ground up and it's actually an amazing engineering feat. But, in order to do that, we had to do some prioritization and we had to cut certain features. Eventually, we will make sure that the UI capabilities are carried out throughout the whole platform" Loke Uei Tan, senior product manager, Windows Mobile Team, Microsoft

Widgets will be treated as full applications and distributed through the Windows Marketplace for Mobile; that's because they have no facility to self-sign or identify as trustworthy in WM6.5.  As a byproduct, widgets – which are zipped HTML, JavaScript and graphics files, and load in a new WM6.5 widget engine – will count toward a developer's five app submissions for their $99 yearly membership fee.

As for Silverlight, that won't be present in WM6.5 "due to a lot of reasons"; the team say they're holding off until "the experience is better for the next version" which we're assuming means Windows Mobile 7.  Windows Mobile 6.5 really is looking like a half-attempt to hold off rival platforms until WM7 can be pushed out, and while we're sure the Microsoft team worked hard for that 8-9 months, it's unclear at this stage whether their output is enough to let the mobile OS catch up.