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First look at the newly launched Windows Mobile 6

Microsoft Corp.'s recently announced Windows Mobile 6 software for smart phones is a step forward for the company, offering some important improvements over previous versions of the software. Windows Mobile 6--previously known by the code name Crossbow--will make its formal debut at 3GSM, a major cell phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain. But just how good is the new software? At first glance, Microsoft's attempt to make Windows Mobile 6 look more like Vista has resulted in a better-looking piece of software, with a new font and a cleaner overall appearance. But the most important improvements to Windows Mobile 6 aren't cosmetic.

The Windows Mobile versions of key Microsoft Office apps--Word, Excel, and PowerPoint--have been beefed up slightly. You can now edit data in an Excel spreadsheet (although you can't create formulas or new spreadsheets).

The calendar application now checks for schedule conflicts when you get an invitation. And borrowing from the new desktop editions of Office (2007), Windows Mobile 6's calendar sports a vaguely ribbon-like interface that shows your free time during a day.Windows Mobile 6 isn't a huge upgrade from the current version 5, but it sports some new features aimed at both its traditional business users and mainstream consumers.

Microsoft also improved the browser and instant-messaging functions in Windows Mobile. For example, you can send text or voice messages to your MSN contacts, while chatting with several contacts simultaneously. If a contact doesn't respond, you can also send a "nudge," which causes the user's phone to vibrate, letting them know that they've received a message.

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