Windows Mobile 7 to Include Non-Touch Controls

Multi-touch capabilities as well

  Windows Mobile 7 might feature the gesture-control functionality
About a year and a half ago, some documents on the functionality of Windows Mobile 7 (at a time when the Windows Mobile 6.5 was not even planned to be developed) surfaced to the web, showing to the world that the Redmond company intended to include a wide range of attractive features in the operating system, among which we were able to count some touch functionalities, as well as motion- and gesture-control capabilities.

It is already known that there are devices available on the market that allow users to silence an incoming call or the alarm through simply flipping or shaking the device, yet Windows Mobile 7 was expected to feature some other kinds of gesture controls, based on the use of the handset's camera. “It will use the camera on the phone to detect motions and create appropriate actions. You will be able to shake, twist and otherwise manipulate the phone and get things done. The phone will be able to perform actions when placed face down on a surface, and it will know when it is in your pocket or bag,” is what the documents leaked in early 2008 unveiled.

The said functionality that was to come with Windows Mobile 7 seemed rather futuristic to some, yet it was based on the idea of transforming the platform into a real competitor against the iPhone, though Microsoft didn't comment on the leak back then. This time around, it seems that the said features might turn into reality, Mary Jo Foley says, as she shows now some slides from an internal Microsoft presentation on Windows Mobile 7 that “talk” about the non-touch controls that could be included in the future iteration of the platform.

It seems that the Redmond company hasn't commented on the new leak either, but, even if they are reported to be “at least two years old,” what they show seems to be quite real. According to Mary Jo Foley, the handset that appears in the slides looks very much like a ZuneHD mockup that surfaced about a month ago into the wild, while the specifications of the ZuneHD resemble up to a certain point the specs of the recently leaked Windows Mobile 7 chassis. Moreover, the fact that the Zune hardware team is now part of the Windows Mobile team should also be taken into consideration.

One more thing that can be seen in the slides is the interaction between the phone and other devices, something that resembles the “three-screen” vision Microsoft has, “where phones/portable media devices, PCs and TVs all interact seamlessly,” Mary Jo adds. All these facts point at a future inclusion of non-touch controls on Windows Mobile 7, and the same does a Tech-Ed talk about gesture-friendly applications for Windows Mobile that could benefit from the phone's built-in sensors and accelerometers.

The next-generation Windows Mobile 7 OS has been reported before to come with a wide range of new features and an improved functionality over previous iterations of the platform, and the presence of the gesture controls would be only a part of what it can bring. As always, there are no official statements that could confirm the said features, but we can nevertheless hope for the best. And while the non-touch controls might seem only like a rumor at this point, one thing that will certainly come with the platform is multi-touch, as it should prove that it is, indeed, able to offer compelling capabilities when compared to other solutions present on the market. You can take a look at the above-mentioned slides here.

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By    16 May 2009, 09:45 GMT