In the aftermath of last week's Consumer Electronics Show, Windows Mobile watchers are reading the soggy tea leaves of hints, generalities, ambiguities, off-the-cuff comments and anonymous sources to discern Microsoft's plans for Windows Mobile 7.

The bottom line? Anybody who really knows anything isn't talking.

There are still wildly varying ideas about when the new version will be released.

One recent story says it has been delayed "again" and won't appear until 2011. That story, at BrightSide News, cites unnamed sources at "at least five" smartphone manufacturers.

(Somewhat strangely, BetaNews seemed to interpret Microsoft's refusal to comment on the report as evidence that it was true.)

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But another account from, of all places, The Mirror reports that Korea's LG Electronics let slip at CES that Windows Mobile 7 will be released in 2010, probably in the autumn.

Nonetheless, there are some more concrete bits of information that observers are pulling into their interpretive mosaic for Windows Mobile 7.

One is the continuing improvement of the Windows Mobile UI.

At CES last week, Microsoft was quietly showing off the next iteration of the current Windows Mobile 6.5 release. Several news Web sites found the Microsoft demonstration of the 6.5.3 version, shown on a Toshiba TG01 smartphone and Pharos Traveler. This release is due out later in 2010, according to one report.

The changes are taken as showing that Windows Mobile 7 may move decisively away from the PC-driven assumptions that have dogged the platform for years.

Currently, the smartphone platform is built on Microsoft's Windows CE, a modular, embedded, real-time operating system that is used to power different classes of devices. It has a separate code-base from the desktop Windows OS, but makes use of the Windows APIs.