What is Windows Phone 6 Starter Edition?
Windows Phone 6 Starter Edition is part of Microsoft’s effort to profit off of Windows Phone 6 Series and its heavy investment in Windows Mobile 6.5.
Essentially, it is Windows Mobile 6.5 repackaged for developing markets, at a lower cost. Like ultra low cost initiatives from other Microsoft software offerings, you won’t see devices with high-end features like capacitive screens or HSPA data. EV-DO data was included as an offering to spur sales in China, however.
What isn’t Windows Phone 6 Starter Edition?
Some of our colleagues in the online media have said that this is the new name for Windows Mobile 6.5. It is not.
Like Windows XP/Vista Starter Edition, and the later Windows 7 Home Basic, it will not be sold in America. It will not replace Windows Mobile 6.5 either. It is intended to be a lower-cost variant of Windows Mobile 6.5 for emerging markets such as China.
There may be a Windows Phone Starter Edition that does launch in the United States, eventually. This is similar to how Windows 7 Starter became a netbook platform. But, Microsoft intends to continue the existing branding of Windows Phone with Windows Mobile 6.5 for the United States and most of Europe.
There are some rumors that, upon the launch of Windows Phone 7 Series, that Windows Mobile 6.5 will be renamed Windows Phone Classic in non-Starter markets. This may be internal planning on the part of Microsoft, and we cannot confirm it at this time.
Why does this matter to me?
It clarifies how Microsoft will continue the two-generation strategy that they first confirmed to us. Superphones will be sold with Windows Phone 7 Series, while mid-range touch phones and non-touch smartphones will be sold with Windows Phone 6 Series.
While we’d love to see Windows Phone 6 Series breathe new life into prepaid and push back against a data-plan-required environment… don’t hold your breath. Carriers not only want to focus more and more on charging for data, rather than voice, but they also fear a short lifespan for Windows Phone 6 Series, despite what Microsoft is promoting.