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Windows Mobile 6.1

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Windows Mobile 6.1Windows Mobile 6.1, the latest upgrade to Microsoft's main operating system for handhelds, has a few important invisible patches and a bunch of minor interface tweaks. It leaves all of Windows Mobile 6's core strengths and weaknesses intact. On the positive side, Windows Mobile is still a flexible OS with unparalleled Windows and Exchange support, and the greatest number of handset choices by far. No matter which carrier, manufacturer, or form factor you choose, you'll find a Windows Mobile device to suit your taste.

No mobile OS integrates more tightly with Windows PCs, Windows Media Player, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Exchange. Syncing ability with Windows Mobile is built into every copy of Windows on the desktop, every copy of Windows Media Player, every Exchange server later than version 2003, and every WMA-format-compatible music store. That makes Windows Mobile an unusually easy solution for connecting your Microsoft universe.

On the negative side, Windows Mobile has a fussy interface with a lot of tiny, confusing elements, and it often feels slow. That hasn't changed with 6.1. And with Apple, BlackBerry, and Google's Android all moving in on Microsoft's turf with faster or more usable systems, Windows Mobile needs a much more extensive interface overhaul to keep its lead into the future.

We tested Windows Mobile 6.1 on a Samsung BlackJack II, one of the two launch devices for the new OS. The BlackJack II runs the Standard, or non-touch-screen version of Windows Mobile. It has slightly different features than the Professional, or touch-screen version, which we weren't able to test--and which will launch on the AT&T Tilt.

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