Microsoft announced Tuesday that its upcoming My Phone data synching service for smartphones running Windows Mobile 6.0 and later has entered broad public beta testing. Previously, My Phone had been in a limited beta test with selected users.
Set to launch when Windows Mobile 6.5 phones start to appear later this year, Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) My Phone will provide services similar to those in Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) MobileMe, such as synchronizing and backing up data between the users’ phone and the My Phone Web site, where the data is stored in the user’s cloud service.
The service will let users manage the information on their Windows Mobile phones via a Web browser, according to statements on Microsoft’s My Phone site.
“If your phone is lost or stolen, or if you upgrade to a new phone, you can easily restore the contacts, calendar appointments, photos, and other information that you stored on My Phone to a compatible new or replacement phone,” the statement continues.
Currently, at least, Microsoft has said it is not going to charge for the service, much as it doesn’t charge for consumers to use its free Live SkyDrive cloud storage service. However, the company cautions that users may have to pay carrier fees for data transfera between the smartphone and the My Phone Website.
My Phone users will get 200MB of cloud storage — as opposed to 25GB of storage for SkyDrive users.
In contrast, MobileMe costs $99 per year for an individual user, and provides 20GB of online storage.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also quietly announced that the next version of Windows Mobile — version 6.5 — is finished.
“For the record, Windows Mobile 6.5 is DONE… complete… looks really good IOHO and every bit functional. ping us if u want to know more,” said a tweet sent late last week from the Windows Mobile development team.
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that Windows Mobile 6.5 has been released to manufacturing. “My Phone will be launched as a ‘final’ version later this year when 6.5 phones become available,” the spokesperson added.