February 17, 2009 When Apple's iPhone first hit the stores two years ago, it was a revelation in slick, simple user interface design that left competition reeling as it quickly achieved cult status. Such ease of use, however, comes at the expense of some functionality and configurability that many users expect from their smartphones, leaving the door wide open for platforms like Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile to go for the power-user market if they can just address their interface issues and build something slick and sexy that does what the iPhone can't. Gizmodo has shown the first hands-on look we've seen at Windows Mobile 6.5, which doesn't add a lot of new features, but makes WM much more finger-friendly and puts some surprisingly effective lipstick on the old girl.

Windows Moble 6.5 was announced today at Spain's Mobile World Congress, and a pre-release version was demonstrated on the new HTC Touch Diamond 2.

While it's still very much a Windows operating system, some of the interfaces are very iPhone in their look and feel. Take the contacts list, which looks and scrolls a lot like the Apple version - and even behaves the same way if you scroll past the edges of the screen.

The mobile IE web browser has been improved for quicker rendering performance and finger-touch usage, but it still seems to be asking more than the HTC hardware can really handle, with webpage scrolling still a little clunky.

Probably the most noticeable change is in the new home screen, which is kind of ugly, but offers configurable access to a whole bunch of features around the phone, from contacts to web favorites, to email accounts, appointments, pictures, texts and music. The iPhone OS is currently lacking in an effective home screen - for instance, you have to go right into your iCal calendar to find out what your upcoming appointments are, but it's something that Windows has generally done well.

In the applications screen, the apps are presented in a honeycomb-shape lattice that Microsoft argues will make them easier to find and access.

It's an impressive visual upgrade for the Windows Mobile platform - and goes some way towards bridging the interface gap between the iPhone and.... well, anything else.

Take a look at the video via Gizmodo.

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