Yesterday afternoon, I received an email update on what's happening with Windows Mobile from one of Microsoft's public relations outfits (Microsoft uses several). In the update was a list of somewhat newsworthy items, one of which is that a Service Pack is being issued for users of Verizon Wireless provisioned Treo 700w's and Sprint PPC-6700s. It's called the Windows Mobile Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) and as a current user of the 700w (not exactly happy with it), I'll be interested to see how smoothly things go with the roll-out to end users (I'm guessing this will be an over-the-air update). Click on the aforelinked text to see what else is new.
Most interesting to me was the item that got the least amount of play. Harris (I didn't even know Harris was still around after all these years) has apparently secured a deal with the US Census Bureau for it's "Field Data Collection Automation Program" (does this mean census takers will be coming to our doors?). The deal includes the deployment of 500,000 Windows Mobile-based devices from HTC. HTC is a big time Taiwanese PDA manufacturer that laid its claim to fame when it made Compaq's iPaqs in the early days of Microsoft's PocketPC operating system (the former name of Windows Mobile).
500,000 is a very big number and this could be a seminal moment in the history of Windows Mobile. It reminds me of a day back in the mid 1980s when Zenith scored a giant deal with the IRS for tens (or hundreds, I can't remember) of thousands of its SuperSport 286 laptop computers. These computers ran DOS and had a monocrhomatic LCD panel that involved blue lettering on a silver background that was considered advanced for the time. That deal put Zenith on the map as a force to be reckoned with and the company I worked for ended up buying several hundred of the systems.
Unfortuantely, Zenith's ability to capitalize on its rise to portable stardom was short-lived. The company attempted to leverage its newfound portable popularity to enter the desktop market against the likes of Compaq and IBM with a desktop that was the size of a spare tire. Meanwhile, a small outfit out of Texas called PCs Limited captured our attention with dirt cheap mail order desktops and we gave that part of our buiness to them (and also IBM for a bunch of microchannel PS/2s ... remember those?). Later PCs Limited changed its name to Dell Computer Corporation.