Microsoft has confirmed to Pocket-lint that it will continue to support its Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system for some time yet following the announcement of Windows Phone 7 Series at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“We are proud of the Windows Phone experience we introduced with Windows Mobile 6.5 and we will continue to partner closely with mobile networks and phone manufacturers to support and invest in the platform", Oded Ran, head of consumer marketing, Windows Phone UK told Pocket-lint in an exclusive interview. "Windows Mobile 6.5 represents a significant part of the portfolio family that is Windows Phones. With over 50 phones available around the world today, it offers customers the freedom to choose from among the widest selection of device form factors and price points”.

The comments come in a stark contrast to the admission from Steve Ballmer that the platform was merely an unfortunate stepping stone the company would rather have avoided.

All the same, this apparent support for a stylus-using system, which the very existence of the multi-touch 7 series brands as unfashionable, is so strong that Microsoft has confirmed that new phones running the, now older platform, will be released this year:

“We expect to introduce new phones running Windows Mobile 6.5 to the Windows Phone family in the coming months”.

But what about current handsets? In the last week there has been a lot of confusion from various spokespeople at Microsoft being quoted over whether or not some Windows 6.5 devices will be upgradable to Windows Phone 7 Series. 

“We've received many questions about the upgradability of HTC HD2 and we currently do not have plans to update the HTC HD2 to Windows Phone 7 Series”, Ran told us, hoping to draw a line in the sand over the will they or won't they question, before going on to say.

“For Windows Phone 7 Series we are enforcing a strict set of hardware requirements to ensure a consistently great experience for end-users and developers...we cannot confirm that Windows Mobile 6.5 phones that satisfy those requirements will be upgradeable”.

The comment could suggest that while the HTC HD2 is out of the running, hypothetically, if a Windows Mobile 6.5 phone was to be released before Windows Phone 7 Series, and it met the "Chassis" requirements on WP7S ie processor, three buttons, graphics chip, running 6.5, it could be eligible?

Failing to be drawn on the suggestion, what we do know is that according to Ran:

"Every Windows Phone 7 Series device will be upgradeable with improvements and features we deliver with subsequent Windows Phone 7 Series releases".

We will keep you posted.