I've been a big fan of Windows Mobile for years - ever since the original Orange SPV Smartphone, the ability to easily sync contacts & calendar onto the phone and the way Windows Mobile handles that data, is far more useful than email, IMHO. I even posted about a cool feature nearly 5 years ago :)
Sure, the phone's had some improving to do since those early days, but the ease of integration was the killer reason to adopt Windows Mobile rather than the various other sync or push-email options (like Nokia's clunky software to sync contacts, or Good/Blackberry type dedicated email devices that grew to become usable phones).
Now Windows Mobile seems to have gone very quiet. Even though it's successful (shipping 18 million devices last financial year, according to IDC) and there are a handful of decent devices (more details here), the "shiny factor" is very much with Apple's iPhone, Blackberry's Storm, Nokia's ever-expanding range, and even the very-much-v1 T-Mobile G1 running Google's Android OS.
The fact that Windows Mobile - as a collective - is out-shipping the iPhone by some multiple (at least in the enterprise) seems to be considered a temporary situation by many commentators, even though analysts predict it to continue for a while to come.
It says a lot that when Forbes commented on the market, they didn't even make mention of Windows Mobile devices.
Any newspaper or glossy magazine reviews that do side-by-side comparisons of the latest hot gadgets, seem to think that if a Windows Mobile-powered device is any good, it's almost despite the OS that runs on it, rather than because of it. As an example, CNet rated the iPhone 3G at 8.9, and gave the HTC Touch HD 8.8 - saying that it's a shame it doesn't run Android (due to perceived usability/UI issues they had).
Maybe there's a point - I happen to like the WM UI, certainly when compared with any other proprietary mobile phone UI, but in direct comparison with the smoothness of some of its latest competitors, it can look dated, and so far, the Shiny Shiny WM phones have had some kind of 3rd-party UI, like HTC's TouchFlo.
So what's next?
Well, there are rumours of a Windows Mobile 6.5 - confirmed by Steve Ballmer, though only in passing - coming next year, with Windows Mobile 7 on the horizon sometime after that.
Terry Myerson - ex-lead of development and latterly Vice President of Exchange, is now the big cheese at Windows Mobile. I know Terry well, and if anyone can energise the development of the next couple of releases of the software, I think he can.
I'm still using an "Excalibur" device - like Steve, I'm a bit out of touch with the state of the art but I find the size, shape & functionality suits me down to the ground. It'll be nice to see what comes next...
In the meantime, have a nice Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone!