Microsoft is reportedly planning to promote two versions of its Windows Mobile operating system simultaneously in a bid to catch-up with its rivals in the smartphone market. According to Taiwan’s DigiTimes this week, which cites sources at local Taiwanese handset-makers, Microsoft is expected to launch the next version of Windows Mobile – version 6.5 – on 1 October 2009 but will continue to develop the platform even after it launches the long-awaited Windows Mobile 7, which is scheduled to launch in the last quarter of the year. The reported roadmap will see Microsoft lower the price of 6.5 when Windows Mobile 7 arrives and will upgrade it with a touch interface in February 2010. 

The dual platform strategy is seemingly designed to have different platforms targeted at specific competing systems. Sources at DigiTimes suggest that Windows Mobile 6.5 will be positioned to compete with Google’s Android platform, while Windows Mobile 7 will be targeted at Apple’s iPhone. Microsoft is also facing renewed competition in the smartphone space from a reinvigorated Palm, which launched its high-profile Pre device this summer, and Research In Motion, which is increasingly targeting its BlackBerry devices at the consumer market. As previously reported, Microsoft is currently in the process of rebranding its Windows Mobile business as ‘Windows Phone.’