Microsoft launches new Windows Mobile homepage – $200m Free The People project starts

Today Microsoft has launched an updated version of the Windows Mobile homepage over on, powered by Silverlight. While not big news in itself, this launch is part of Microsoft’s new project to better promote its consumer offerings, which under the old codename was referred to as FTP168. Bill Gates mentioned this in his exit interview with Forbes last week, with FTP standing for “Free The People” and having a spend of $200m (we heard that the 168 was the initial budgeted spend). tips at liveside dot net for the new name

Looking at the new Windows Mobile homepage it is clear that some significant work has gone into promoting the benefits of a Microsoft-powered device, with users able to compare the latest devices being offered by worldwide carriers, filtering by features such as touch screen, flip keyboard or WiFi. The results of these searches are still on the old-style pages, which when you click through to show just had poorly these products have been marketed. There’s also a new interactive experience, showing off the new Windows Mobile 6.1 UI and how with Windows Live and Microsoft Office Mobile it complements the existing PC experience.

In addition the relaunch sees the somewhat clunky Windows Mobile Owners Circle being renamed to Windows Mobile Total Access, which is still promoting the 3rd party applications that run on Windows Mobile. Will this be enough to stop developers migrating over to developing iPhone applications? Probably not, which is why Microsoft needs to deliver a compelling experience with the launch of Windows Mobile 7 early 2009 and Windows Live Wave 3 later this year. Mary Jo Foley has been digging into the ties between these two product ranges already, which if you’re a user of both makes for interesting reading:

Microsoft internal memo details Windows 7-Windows Live ties

Gates emphasizes PC-phone connectivity in Windows 7

So does the new website impress you – in particular if you’re an iPhone or non-Windows Mobile user, does this encourage you to buy one of these devices?