Speaking at the Venture Capital Summit late last week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that Microsoft made mistakes with its Windows Mobile smart phone platform that allowed Apple to swoop in out of nowhere and open up the market to consumers. To reverse the slide, he said he has put "some new talent" on the next major version, Windows Mobile 7.

"This will not happen again," Ballmer said, alluding to the Windows Mobile 7 delays that forced the company to ship a previously unplanned interim update called Windows Mobile 6.5 this year instead. "We screwed up."

Microsoft has come under fire recently for faltering in the smart phone market. Its Windows Mobile system is being outsold by Research in Motion's (RIM's) BlackBerry in the business market, while Apple's iPhone has created new consumer demand for smart phones, especially in the United States. Meanwhile, new competitors such as Google's Android platform are offering unique ties between web services and mobile devices.

In a bid to catch up with its rivals, Microsoft created an interim Windows Mobile version, Windows Mobile 6.5, which device makers and wireless carriers will begin selling next month. Windows Mobile 7, meanwhile, is expected to hit the market in late 2010 at the earliest. But there are indications that Microsoft won't be able to hit this date, starting with the revelation that it won't showcase Windows Mobile 7 at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in November. The PDC would have been the obvious place to start pushing a next-generation mobile platform, but Microsoft says that it has no plans to do that.