Microsoft has updated Bing for Windows Mobile, in a way that many Windows Phone owners won’t be happy about.
The latest version of Bing for Windows Mobile prohibits devices with QVGA or lower resolution screens… even for users that already have the application installed. Previously devices below QVGA (320×240 pixels) were permitted to install in an “unsupported” mode. This new change not only removes unsupported mode, but also blocks QVGA devices as well. QVGA was the resolution that Microsoft suggested for devices for nearly a decade.
This change affects even current devices, and leaves a key feature… free turn-by-turn navigation, out of reach for many Windows Phone owners. Some customers are on grandfathered plans, for which Windows Mobile 6.5 was the highest-order operating system. Other carriers like MetroPCS are only beginning to offer Android phones, and have pointed to Windows Mobile 6.1 as their premier smartphone operating system.
The change by Bing is consistent with Bing’s internal policy, but not with Microsoft’s lifecycle policy to provide Mainstream Support for Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5. Bing differs from other Microsoft offerings in that it is intended to rival Google, and be more edgy with launching… and pulling… offerings that the market rejects. The removal of Bing for Windows Mobile QVGA-and-lower devices may point to customers not taking advantage of costly features like free GPS navigation. While technically Bing for Windows Mobile will still run on Windows Mobile 6.1, the vast majority of device manufacturers followed Microsoft’s recommendations, and built devices for QVGA screens, the very QVGA screens that Bing for Windows Mobile will no longer run on.
The change does benefit Bing as a service: the Bing for Windows Mobile team will now be able to focus efforts on a Bing experience that is primarily aimed at Windows Phone 7, and then backported to elite Windows Mobile 6.5 (and a handful of 6.1) phones.
Microsoft hasn’t completely shut the door on Bing for Windows Mobile 6, the company suggests users on devices which no longer can run Bing for Windows Mobile should instead use m.bing.com for mobile searching. Users who diligently updated, and lost access to Bing, are presented with the following message: “Sorry, the resolution on this device is not supported, please visit http://m.bing.com for the best search experience.”