Microsoft yesterday announced that its latest Windows operating system (OS) for mobile phones – aimed at reviving its fortunes in the market for smartphones – will debut on devices on 6 October, but initial reports have damned the company’s efforts. The next version of Windows Mobile – version 6.5, essentially a software upgrade to version 6 – will be supported by vendors such as HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Acer, as well as operators AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Orange, NTT Docomo, Vodafone and T-Mobile. In fact, HTC issued a statement today noting that its new Touch2 device will support Windows Mobile 6.5 upon the smartphone’s release date (6 October).

Despite huge success in the PC space, Microsoft has experienced difficulties in the mobile OS market. However, the company is determined to improve, investing heavily in its ‘Windows Phone’ brand; the new name for its Windows Mobile platform. Version 7 of the platform – reported to be a complete reworking of the OS – is expected to commercially launch next year. Reaction to the release of version 6.5 has not been without criticism. A Dow Jones Newswires report noted that Microsoft “is going to need a lot more than a new coat of paint if it wants to stay relevant in the smartphone business,” adding that its efforts “won’t be enough to keep it from getting pummelled in the increasingly tight smartphone market.” A PC World report dubbed the platform “a totally unexciting workhorse” whilst a BBC report cited Paul Rubens of as stating that “Microsoft’s attempts in the mobile arena have been lame, lame, lame, to say the least.” According to second-quarter statistics from Gartner, Microsoft’s share of the smartphone OS market continued to drop year-on-year to account for 9 percent of the market, behind the Symbian OS and rival platforms from RIM and Apple.