If you want a decent summary of the rumours currently flying around the net, Ars Technica has done a great job. It's full of rumoured delays, partners, launch dates, phones, unicorns, empty coffee cups, and, of course, the obligatory rumoured empty newspaper pages with letters printed in pink on the backs.
Yes, you're not the only one who's confused.
Let's focus on the interesting ones. As we all know, Windows Mobile hasn't been doing very well. She's been ill for years now, first surpassed by the new kid in town (iPhone - by the way, I have the feeling many people miss the heartbreaking sadness in The New Kid In Town), which only led to more new kids running straight past (Android, webOS). While these new kids may not have a bigger market share at this point (I have no idea), the mindshare is obviously lost. Windows Mobile is an ageing beast whose interface and paradigms are outdated, and are a downright pain to use (I had a WM phone for a year). It has scars and stitches that no amount of nose powdering can cover up.
So, hope is set for Windows Mobile 7 to shake things up and finally deliver a Windows phone experience that doesn't resemble shoving shards of broken glass underneath your fingernails. An obvious product from Microsoft to draw inspiration from is the Zune, especially the Zune HD variant. Its hardware and interface have been very well received in the press, and it would make sense for Microsoft to inject some sort of logic into their mobile offerings (as in, the same software on both the Zune HD and mobile phones).
The latest set of rumours implies Microsoft is doing just that - of course, with the necessary Microsoftisms attached. This latest set of rumours also explains some of the contradictory stuff that has come before. WMExperts claims that Windows Mobile 7 will simply be called Seven, and that it comes in two versions: Business and Media. Those may not be the definitive names - they're just indicative of what they offer.
The Business version is stripped down, and will be the OEM variant, meaning companies like HTC get to put their custom user interfaces on top if it. It will simply contain less "flash" than the Media edition, allowing it to eat less resources which makes the battery last longer. It also comes with business-oriented features like cloud syncing and collaborative document editing. The minimum resolution for Business is supposed to be WVGA (800×480), and the current HTC HD2 can already run it. It will become available for that phone in October/November 2010.
Now, the Media edition is supposedly the real deal, the one that will woo consumers away from the new kids in town. This won't be a Zune phone, but the experience will be much like it, according to WMExperts. It will have HD video, Silverlight, Mediaroom , XBox Live (possibly gameplay), Facebook and Twitter interfaces, Zune Music integration, and more. Media is not as complete yet as Business, so it will arrive later, possibly in 2011. This is the version that might be shown off coming Mobile World Congress next month.
WMExperts has a whole load of more stuff, rumours, and even a whole boatload of specifications for two Seven phones, so be sure to give it a read. Note, of course, that it's all rumours.