Microsoft CFO Peter Klein has said that the company is working “heads down” on its new Windows Mobile 7 OS and confirmed that the company will “have much more to say” about it at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 15-18 (video at Fox Business- scroll to 4:07).  Here’s a round-up of what we know so far:

A DigiTimes source reported that WM7 will be released to phone manufacturers in September 2010, confirming an earlier leak from LG.  So phones running WM7 should hit store shelves by the end of 2010.  WM7 focuses on improving the user interface, browsing, and multimedia experience.  Zune, Xbox Live, and Silverlight integration are in the cards, but interestingly, the source claims that the 2010 launch will only be for English and “common European languages,” with Asian language support coming in 2011.MsftKitchen has dug up information on Micrisoft’s Energize IT 2010 developer conference, where Windows Mobile 7 will be featured and discussed.  The focus will be on “…the client to the cloud, this fun-filled demo-intensive exploration will excite you about the possibilities of the Microsoft-based platform.”

What to Expect

WMExperts posted an interesting story with details about Windows Mobile 7 and two supposed upcoming WM7 devices- we’ve posted the information below.  We’ll add a disclaimer here- while the information makes sense, it’s far from official.

Software

WMExperts reports that there will be two versions of Windows Mobile 7: Business edition and Media edition.  These are not final marketing names, but rather different branches of development.  They are scheduled for different release dates as well.

Windows Phone 7 Business Edition (BE)


WM7 Business Edition is the stripped-down version.  It’s close to being complete, and while it still handles media, it’s going to be less exciting than the Media Edition.  Lacking the fancy, resource-intensive UI on top, the Business Edition will also be the one most likely to support OEM user interface overlays, such as HTC’s Sense UI.

WM7 BE focuses on cloud syncing across multiple devices, including PCs.  As expected in a business product, Microsoft’s focus is on a remarkable new Office experience.  What Microsoft adds to this field is the ability to do live manipulation of data, rather than simply “syncing” them across the Internet.  You can, for example, work remotely on a Word document stored on your PC or work computer remotely.  Live editing will also allow Google Docs-style access to multiple users, so two or three people will be able to simultaneously view and edit the same document from different computers, including a Windows phone.  Office Mobile will integrate with the phone’s camera as well, so will be able to take a photo and directly embed it into a document, for example.

The HTC HD2 is being used as a development device for WM7 Business Edition and reportedly runs it quite smoothly.  If HTC decides to release an official WM7 upgrade for the HD2, it would arrive in October-November 2010.  The WM7 BE UI is still a complete unknown, but WMExperts posted the following tip:

Think TouchFLO (slider tabs) meeting up with a stock SPB Shell (lots of information on multiple screen) mixed with a very well integrated message and app launcher — almost a ‘fun’ BlackBerry interface. Seems like the stock shell is more like a really good BB theme than iPhone or Android.

Windows Phone 7 Media Edition (ME)

With Windows Mobile 7, Microsoft is finally targeting consumers (prior versions were always business-focused), so the Media Edition is the centerpiece of the company’s efforts this time around.  It’s not completed yet, but Microsoft will likely be showing some parts of it at Mobile World Congress, and it’ll likely ship by early 2011.

Media Edition will add:

Silverlight
Mediaroom
Xbox Live
Facebook and Twtter interfaces (similar to Xbox)
Zune Music integration

Our own sources report, however, that the Xbox Live integration is unlikely to include actual on-device gaming, at least initially.  If this information is correct, Microsoft will have executed on its aim to modern Windows Mobile, but without strong Xbox Live integration, it will have sacrificed a potentially huge competitive advantage (imagine deep mobile integration for Xbox 360 games).

Orion – The Windows Sensor and Location Platform

Orion is a cloud-based assisted GPS system aimed at dramatically increasing initial location-lock performance in all scenarios.  Current systems, which use AGPS, are dependent on carriers.  The radio-interface layer (RIL) is being enhanced with multiple-tower signal detection, triangulation, and IP resolution for WiFi-based location detection.  A common WM7 API will make this information available for third-party apps.

The performance target for Orion is to gain an initial lock (cold start) in less than 1 second, with accuracy within 300 meters.  A hot or warm start is targeted at under 0.25 seconds, with 10 meter accuracy.

Orion is actually already a part of Windows 7 on the desktop, as part of the Windows Sensor and Location Platform initiative.  What remains to be seen is how well Microsoft integrates the mobile and desktop platforms.

Hardware

WMExperts posted information about two devices that may launch by the end of 2010 with Windows Mobile 7.  Keep in mind that we have not been able to independently verify any of this information.

LG Apollo

The LG Apollo will allegedly will be the first Windows Mobile 7 phone to ship.  LG is a very important partner for Microsoft, and Microsoft has a dedicated team in Redmond working solely on LG mobile offerings.  Here are the purported specs:

Launching: August/September 2010
CPU: Qualcomm QSD8650; 1.3GHz
CDMA + GSM (aka a World Phone)
EvDO + HSDPA
Device Size: 115 x 57.5 x 11.2 mm
Memory (RAM/ROM): 1GB/1GB
External Storage: MicroSD (up to 32GB)
Screen Size/Type: 3.8-inch capacitive AMOLED “Multitouch Supported”
Screen Resolution: WXGA 1280 x 720 px
Camera: 10-megapixel with flash and autofocus; HD 720p video@ 30fps
Video Support: Windows Media Video (WMV), MPEG-4 (MP4/M4V) H.264, DVR-MS4
Audio Support: Windows Media Audio (WMA), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC-LC), FairPlay DRM, MP3
Battery: Removable 1400 mAh
Talk Time: Up to 7.5 hours
Standby Time: 288 hours
Internet Use: 4.5 hours (3G), 6.5 hours (WiFi)
Video Playback: 10 hours
Audio Playback: 30 hours

The processor is likely not the QSD8650, which only goes up to 1 GHz, but rather the new QSD8650A variant, which does run at 1.3GHz.  The new chip is a 45nm shrink of the QSD8650 (which powers the HTC HD2 and others) that uses 30% less power than the 1 GHz chip while delivering 30% faster performance, so it’s a natural choice for a WM7 flagship phone.

The screen resolution is definitely incorrect.  1280×720 is the processor’s maximum output resolution, not that of the actual display on the phone.  WXGA OLED screens simply don’t yet exist at 3.8″, and such high resolution in such a small screen would be an unnecessary waste of processing power in any case.

The chipset is allegedly a CDMA/GSM hybrid, so depending on bands, it may support Sprint/Verizon.

HTC Obsession

The HTC Obsession is essentially a slightly smaller HD2.  Its specs are very similar to the HD2, so it’s likely to be shown, if not shipped, earlier than the LG phone.

Launching: October 2010
CPU: Qualcomm QSD8250; 1GHz
GSM HSDPA
Device Size: 112 x 56 x 11.7 mm
Memory (RAM/ROM): 512MB/512MB
Internal Storage: 4GB
External Storage: MicroSD (up to 32GB)
Screen Size/Type: 3.7-inch capacitive AMOLED “Multitouch Supported”
Camera: 5.0 Megapixel AF with flash; HD 720p video@ 25fps
Video Support: Windows Media Video (WMV), MPEG-4 (MP4/M4V) H.264, DVR-MS4
Audio Support: Windows Media Audio (WMA), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC-LC), FairPlay DRM, MP3 (.mp3)
Battery: Removable 1230 mAh
Talk Time: Up to 10 hours
Standby Time: 240 hours
Internet Use: 6 hours (3G), 7.5 hours (WiFi)
Video Playback: 7 hours
Audio Playback: 24 hours

Nothing particularly interesting to see here– again, it’s basically an HD2 but with the Nexus One’s 3.7″ OLED screen instead of a 4.3″ LCD and more internal storage (4GB).  Obsession is said to resemble Verizon’s HTC Imagio, and T-Mobile will likely be the first to pick up this model.

Further

With just days left to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we’ll find out soon enough what Microsoft has up its sleeves in the mobile space.  Microsoft has a long way to go, however, and Windows Mobile 7 will have to be truly groundbreaking in order to regain competitiveness in the phone arena.