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Microsoft has been showing press the next version of their mobile operating system, with lots of finger control, integration with the cloud, and an application store. A bit like the iPhone. Only not as good.

Microsoft would like the public to call their new version "Windows," though internally they'll still refer to it as Windows Mobile 6.5. Whatever it's called, it has gone very finger-friendly with a new menu structure and a mandated Windows Start button on the outside.

But the changes aren't much more than skin deep. And once you're into the applications, a sharpened fingernail is still needed to tap on notifications in the menu bar or the ubiquitous cross in the top right corner. More interesting is the integrated cloud synchronisation, dubbed MyMobile, and the Microsoft Application Store.

MyMobile, as expected, offers synchronisation of contacts, calendar, and media including photographs and videos as well as archiving content onto Microsoft's servers. The service will be free and those with Windows Mobile 6.1 devices will be able to play too, thanks to a downloadable client. The service should be comparable to MobileMe, only with timed synchronisation rather than pushed updates (Microsoft suggests daily, overnight, syncing), and of course, it's free.

Application Store is still slightly up in the air, with no details of what kind of content will be available beyond applications, but we do know that MyMobile won't backup your purchases, for the moment at least.

Along with the new OS comes a new version of Pocket Internet Explorer - This time, it apparently offers the desktop browsing experience on a mobile phone. But that would surely require Firefox. You do get finger navigation and bigger icons, along with favourites on the start menu - but nothing we've not seen before on Windows Mobile shell replacements. In fact, anyone who's used a replacement shell such as that from Spd - or even the free PointUI - will know what to expect from Windows Mobile 6.5. Combine it with Opera, and you've pretty-much got what Microsoft is offering, only without having to wait until the autumn to get it. ®

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