Microsoft yesterday announced a number of new developments that aim to help it become a stronger player in the mobile arena. The software giant unveiled a revamp of its handset OS, together with a new UI and mobile browser. The label of Windows Mobile will be replaced with new branding – ‘Windows Phone.’ The company also stressed that mobile was a key focus – ‘not just another pet project’ – and is continuing to invest heavily with much more activity being seen over the next 18 months. The major announcement was the planned release in the fourth quarter this year of Windows Mobile 6.5. The OS will support a completely new UI which Microsoft claims is more customer focused and in line with the shift towards touchscreen handsets.

The company also unveiled its application store service, branded Windows Mobile Marketplace, which will enable users to download any of the 20,000 mobile applications available for the Microsoft OS. “Within the 6.5 revision there will be an icon on the handset UI so users can access this marketplace with a single click.”