I like Windows Mobile and am not ashamed to admit it

I like Windows Mobile and am not ashamed to admit it

Summary: A couple weeks ago Om Malik wrote an article in the NY Times titled, Why Windows Mobile is in Trouble, and most of the focus was on how the T-Mobile G1 and Google Android poses the biggest threat to Windows Mobile. The article gives an honest assessment of where Windows Mobile is at this time and concludes by stating that Windows Mobile is not a lost cause, but does need to take some actions to stay current and relevant in the mobile space. I agree with this bottom line, but also don't think Microsoft has too much to worry about with the first Google Android device (the G1). I have been using the G1 for two weeks now and while it is great to see a mainstream Linux mobile OS, I am also heavily using my Treo Pro to get things done and stay in touch on the go. I don't see a lot of people standing up and saying they prefer and like using Windows Mobile, but I know there are lots of people out there that do enjoy using this platform and I am one of them.

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I like Windows Mobile and am not ashamed to admit itA couple weeks ago Om Malik wrote an article in the NY Times titled, Why Windows Mobile is in Trouble, and most of the focus was on how the T-Mobile G1 and Google Android poses the biggest threat to Windows Mobile. The article gives an honest assessment of where Windows Mobile is at this time and concludes by stating that Windows Mobile is not a lost cause, but does need to take some actions to stay current and relevant in the mobile space. I agree with this bottom line, but also don't think Microsoft has too much to worry about with the first Google Android device (the G1). I have been using the G1 for two weeks now and while it is great to see a mainstream Linux mobile OS, I am also heavily using my Treo Pro to get things done and stay in touch on the go. I don't see a lot of people standing up and saying they prefer and like using Windows Mobile, but I know there are lots of people out there that do enjoy using this platform and I am one of them. I have read many comments online recently where people are trying to figure out if they want an iPhone or a new BlackBerry, but rarely hear that they are even considering a new Windows Mobile device.

If you just look at the specs, Windows Mobile may be considered the most powerful and functional platform out there (S60 also may take this title). However, as Microsoft is learning it is not just about the specs, but today people want the overall user experience to awe them. Honestly, HTC and Samsung are working to bring this type of experience to people, but the message just doesn't seem to reach people like it does with the iPhone.

There are some incredibly powerful, diverse, and fun devices available in the Windows Mobile world, including the HTC Touch Pro, Samsung Epix, HTC Touch HD, Treo Pro (my current favorite device), Samsung OMNIA, Blackjack II, T-Mobile Dash, and many, many more. IMHO, one of the strengths of the Windows Mobile platform is that there are devices available in all shapes and sizes so that everyone can be satisfied. And as a mobile phone enthusiast, I love that I can dive into the details of the operating system and tweak away to my heart's desire.

Then again, the sheer number of devices may also be a weakness because there is no central way that the platform is being marketed. Apple and Google have it fairly easy with a single device to promote from a single manufacturer. Almost all S60 devices come from Nokia so even though there are a number of different models, there is a single company name behind them all. With Windows Mobile you have manufacturers (like HTC, Samsung, and Palm) and wireless carriers (like Orange, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile) that have branded devices so it is extremely challenging to get out a consistent message. Microsoft also changed the naming scheme from a more consumer-friendly Pocket PC or Smartphone to Windows Mobile Smartphone that just doesn't have the same ring to it. I think Microsoft can do a much better job of marketing some of the incredible strengths of the platform and maybe they should focus on things like Exchange support (for enterprise customers) and smart dialing (for consumers).

Windows Mobile has been around for quite a while and in the beginning (2000) the devices were buggy and unstable. I can honestly say that almost all the devices I have been using the last couple of years have been rock solid. I can count on one hand how many times my Windows Mobile devices (among them the T-Mobile Dash, T-Mobile Shadow, Treo Pro, HTC Touch Diamond, and HTC Advantage) have soft reset on me and I constantly check out new 3rd party applications and push the limits of my devices. I do find the non-touch screen devices to be a bit more responsive (except for my Treo Pro) and stable than the touch screen devices, but my experiences indicate stability and reliability is no longer an issue. However, this stigma still seems to be attached to Windows Mobile and is thrown around like a fact years later.

I also think Microsoft should have been the first to come out with a hosted Exchange option for consumers, just like BlackBerry has with its BlackBerry Internet Services for consumers or BlackBerry Enterprise Services for businesses. Microsoft could have done the same thing back when Exchange ActiveSync support was provided and consumers could have had a "BlackBerry-like" experience right out of the box when picking up a Windows Mobile device from a wireless carrier. Today, the iPhone has this with MobileMe and the G1 has this with Google, but Microsoft still should consider this even though some may say they are copying others. Nokia is moving this way with their Ovi initiative and it isn't too late to show consumers they can remain connected with a Windows Mobile device.

A new Windows Mobile site has launched called Windows Mobile Developer Network and shows you upcoming events, featured applications, Windows Mobile team websites, and featured content articles along with a bunch of other content that helps people use their device to the fullest. The site is designed to aid developers in bringing applications to Windows Mobile, but is also useful for just about any WM user. The Windows Mobile Catalog page is a nice way to browse some of the thousands of applications available for Windows Mobile devices and links to multiple vendors so you have a single consolidated location to see what is out there. Creating a site like this for consumers that is promoted in the box, along with a hosted Exchange service could help Microsoft reach more people with Windows Mobile.

As far as the enterprise user goes, I prefer and use my Treo Pro with my new work Exchange server and absolutely LOVE the experience and functionality. Some people may call me crazy, but I actually prefer using my Treo Pro to interface with my Exchange account (creating appointments, adding contacts, and checking email) rather than using Outlook on the desktop most of the time. Windows Mobile should be dominating the enterprise market and it would be interesting to see study results looking at mobile devices in businesses rather than across the entire spectrum of the mobile community.

I also enjoy using 3rd party applications on my Windows Mobile devices that allow me to work and play both online and offline. There are applications to meet just about every need out there and I do not have to make any compromises with software or connectivity with the latest Windows Mobile devices. Pair a Windows Mobile device with a REDFLY and you even have a powerful mobile computer where the display and keyboard sizes don't really limit you anymore.

I also like using devices running S60, but find the PIM and email experience to be superior on Windows Mobile devices. If multimedia creation is a major factor in your purchasing decision, then S60 is definitely the winner in this category. There is also a failure to market S60 successfully in the U.S., but that may largely be driven by carrier support and I'll save more thoughts on S60 for another post.

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Software, Windows

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41 comments
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  • Web Sites/Upgrades/Enhancements

    There are also a number of sites that you can link and sync your data with. www.plaxo.com is one of them and upgrading to the new TouchFlo 2D is easily done. You can visit http://www.ppcgeeks.com or http://www.xda-developers.com/index.php to get some software that will run on the HTC phones.
    da.bell
  • RE: I like Windows Mobile and am not ashamed to admit it

    I have had Windows mobile for a couple of years now and a Blackberry before that. I prefer my Windows mobile device.
    jfp
  • RE: I like Windows Mobile and am not ashamed to admit it

    Coming from the Palm OS, I, too really like the Windows Mobile OS platform after getting a good idea of how it really works. I really like it now with all the powerful features it offers. After saying that, I am also interested in what other platforms have to offer.

    The main strength of any platform is the support of third party software and right now, it seems the iPhone is definitely getting a flood of software support.
    maceyr of PalmDiscovery.com
  • RE: I like Windows Mobile and am not ashamed to admit it

    Thanks for the really thoughtful piece, Matt. We've quoted you over on our new Windows Mobile Connection forum: http://www.windowsmobileconnection.com. Our site is designed for mobile-industry reps and support professionals, but it's also a great resource for consumers looking for advice and opinions on phones, software, and the industry in general.
    bill fisher
  • I used to like WM.

    I used to like WM. My IPAQ PDA was very capable but the user interface was clunky and I had to do soft resets all the time. I just bought an I POD touch (2nd gen) and I am blown away by the user interface. I am very impressed with the web browser, the size of the device, and the capability. I now think that the i phone is at least a year ahead of competitors. I have high hopes for android because it is open source and because Google makes good stuff. Give android time and it will improve rapidly. I don't think that Microsoft will make the changes needed to stay competitive.
    KLS 12.5
    • A year, perhaps more

      I'd say that when the original iPhone came out, it was two or three years ahead of its competitors (assuming they were mobilized like they are now). The iPhone 3G is now at least a year ahead. Depending on what Apple does with the iPhone software (and hardware for that matter) it could widen that gap very easily.

      You're right, Microsoft just isn't changing fast enough in the mobile space to keep up. The main innovators again don't include MS.
      steeldestroyer
      • Ahead of what?

        The iPhone might be ahead of the RAZR, but in terms of functionality, it's very far behind.

        Can you open/edit Office documents? Photoshop files? Can you sync time tracking, billing, and finance software with desktop applications? Can you copy/paste content from a web page to an email or Word document? Can you install any number of voice prompt GPS navigation programs, or moving map all-terrain navigation software? Can you manually organize files into folders? Can you install 3rd party software keyboards or handwriting recognition software? Can you log into remote computers using Remote Desktop? Can you control your MP3 player with voice recognition?

        Windows Mobile has been capable of all those things throughout this century.
        AdamzP
        • I have a Remote Desktop soft for iPhone

          I have a Remote Desktop soft for iPhone so please stop whining about nothing. I am sure when the time comes and I need to edit Excel files on the iPhone, I'll figure it out. In the worst case there is this Google Docs, right ?
          I've been using the BlackJack with Windows Mobile for about a year and half before I switched to iPhone. I am telling you, I'll never buy anything mobile that has Windows logo on it. I was tricked once, will not fall for it twice.
          dcdavy
          • You'll "figure it out"?

            That sound is the rest of us laughing at you.

            Further comedy was provided when you mention Google Docs.
            Sleeper Service
  • RE: I like Windows Mobile and am not ashamed to admit it

    I had a Windows Mobile phone (Treo 700w) It was the most cumbersome phone I owned. I got tired of pulling the battery to reboot it because it either wouldn't make a call or I couldn't answer a call or just plain freeze up. I dumped it to try the iPhone and it is the most amazing phone I have used to date. If Microsoft don't build an eco system like the iPhone has and fix the UI, it will be only a matter of time and the iPhone will push WM out of the market.
    Axsimulate
    • Doubt it.

      The new WinMo phones - the Diamond, Touch Pro, Omnia and Xperia all have excellent UIs and better functionality.

      It's 2008 just in case you missed it.
      Sleeper Service
  • Thank You!

    Totally Agree!
    I've been using Windows Mobile (Pocket PC, CE) for almost 10 years and not once have I seen a mobile operating system with more power, flexibility, and functionality. Although S60 is probably on the same level. S60 does some things better than WM, but WM does some things better than S60, so I have respect for Symbian there.

    I've been using Android for a week now too, and there is plenty missing. It's not remotely close to Windows Mobile and S60's functionality.
    AdamzP
    • It is nice to see that Microsoft's employees post here

      Because nobody else could possibly claim that Windows Mobile is a stable and mature platform. Perhaps if you run it on your desktop computer, then I believe it might be at least a fast crap. On a cellphone it is just a crap. 1.5 years of experience here.
      dcdavy
      • Only 1.5 years?

        Which phone did you have for those 1.5 years?

        10 years, and well over 20 WinMo phones experience here.
        AdamzP
      • Yeah, right...

        ..come back when you're more convincing, troll boy.
        Sleeper Service
  • The iPhone's not ahead - it's off to one side :-)

    The iPhone UI is dirt simple and could be duplicated easily. However, no one (except some Chinese) seems to want to just copy it.

    Everyone else wants to keep the extra underlying power and user customization that the iPhone lacks, and make it accessible. This is much harder to do in an easy manner.

    So the iPhone's not "ahead", it's over to one side and doing well because it has sex appeal. But to someone who enjoys Slingbox, background tasks, GPS nav apps, Flash videos, Redfly and other features, it's definitely not sitting ahead.
    kdarling
  • I like Windows Mobile and am proud of it!

    I have a Samsung Blackjack with WM6 and this is one of the best phones I had in years. WM allows you to install apps withuot any fuzz. Plus, I agree with you that its great to "can dive into the details of the operating system and tweak away to my heart?s desire". I think that's one of the strengths of WM platform.
    silent.griffin
    • BlackJack (aka slow, slow, slow)

      I've been there. You start playing an MP3 song and after some 2-3 seconds the music stops for a moment because the crap just started doing something in the background. If the phone call comes at that moment, then good luck with answering it. I've been pissed off every day when I had that junk. I did not want to throw it to garbage only because I spent close to $400 on it. Now I am a happy iPhone user.
      dcdavy
      • Shill alert!

        See, you could have posted once and made your point but here you are pimping your iPhone everytime that someone mentions a positive about their WinMo phone.
        Sleeper Service
      • What phone do you use?

        What phone/carrier do you use? I am still running a Samsung Sph-i700 and WinMo works VERY well on it. This is an old slow phone, so I am curious as to your problem. BTW whenb the phone rings, music, games, or anything the OS is doing is suspended every time. Your problems are curious indeed.
        Woned B. Fooldagan