MWC 09: Windows Mobile 6.5 disappoints, where's the beef?

MWC 09: Windows Mobile 6.5 disappoints, where's the beef?

Summary: Microsoft announced Windows Mobile 6.5 today at Mobile World Congress in Spain and as a fan of the Windows Mobile OS, I have to say I am pretty disappointed with the update and the 9+ months we have to wait to actually see it on any device. I have seen a few demos of 6.5 in action and in my opinion it just adds the UI enhancements we saw on Standard (non-touch screen) devices with Windows Mobile 6.1 and makes it more finger friendly. There is also an improved web browser (Opera Mobile already gives us a superior browsing experience) and some services that will be supported on 6.5 devices. I am sure we will see some cool devices come out in late 2009, but honestly there is nothing I see here that compels me to start saving up to run out and buy a Windows Mobile device.

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Microsoft announced Windows Mobile 6.5 today at Mobile World Congress in Spain and as a fan of the Windows Mobile OS, I have to say I am pretty disappointed with the update and even more that we may have to wait 9+ months to actually see it on any device. I have seen a few demos of 6.5 in action and in my opinion it just adds the UI enhancements we saw on Standard (non-touch screen) devices with Windows Mobile 6.1 and makes it more finger friendly. There is also an improved web browser (Opera Mobile already gives us a superior browsing experience) and some services that will be supported on 6.5 devices. I am sure we will see some cool devices come out in late 2009, but honestly there is nothing I see here that compels me to start saving up to run out and buy a Windows Mobile device. Over a 9-month period many people may forget about these minor updates and with the Palm Pre, Nokia N97, possible iPhone model or two, and several Google Android products coming out in 2009 Microsoft really needed to step up to the plate and hit at least a triple to keep me excited. You can see a few screenshots of the new OS in our image gallery, but keep in mind that we still have several months until the OS is released so things could still change.


Image Gallery:A few screenshots of Windows Mobile 6.5. Image Gallery: Lock Screen Image Gallery: Application launcher

When Windows Mobile 6.1 came out last year, there wasn't much there for touch screen phones. However, 6.1 made the non-touch smartphone 1000 times more user friendly with the sliding panels and fluid Home screen. 6.5 brings touchability and ease of use (at least on the initial layer or two) to touch screen devices. The thing is Samsung, HTC, and Sony Ericsson already did that with their customizations built on 6.1 Professional so there really isn't much new here. There are some finger friendly improvements to menus that should have been there in 6.1. Opera Mobile looks to still have the better web browser when compared to the new Internet Explorer Mobile 6 (where is dynamic zoom and tap to zoom features in IE Mobile 6?).

Here are some things I see missing in Windows Mobile 6.5 that are the most disappointing to me:

  • HTC, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson's UI customizations still seem better (don't forget you can even use Spb Mobile Shell to get this kind of custom UI and they are showing off version 3.0 at MWC too)
  • Still using resistive touch screens while the Pre, Google Android, and iPhone have capacitive touch friendly displays. Capacitive is much more user friendly and intuitive.
  • No or limited upgradeability for existing high end, expensive devices
  • No visual voicemail feature
  • No real-time syncing solution for the consumer (Apple has Mobile Me, Nokia has Ovi Sync, Android has Google, etc.). Exchange support is still the best on the market, but requires YOU to have corporate or hosted Exchange account.

I'll keep my Palm Treo Pro and HTC Fuze for now since they are both solid devices, but I'll be looking at the Nokia N97, new Android device, and possible new iPhone first before I consider upgrading either of these two devices. It really is too bad Microsoft moves so slow with Windows Mobile because I know lots of very intelligent and talented people there who could blow us away with a mobile operating system. 6.5 should have been what 6.1 was last year and to now still have several more months before it actually ships on a device is just unacceptable. While it may be fine to release updates over years in the PC market, the mobile market just moves too fast today for Microsoft to take this long to update devices.

I still find my Windows Mobile devices to be quite functional and will keep using them because they do offer the BEST Exchange experience on mobile platforms. However, with their licensing of Exchange ActiveSync to many of the other players that could change in the future.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Software, Wi-Fi, Windows

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58 comments
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  • Why should it be any different?

    Vista and Windows 7 are disapointments, from a company that has lost a sense of direction, and is focussed only on the economic gains of software.
    chrome_slinky@...
    • A disapointment?

      Linux is a disapointment as it is still not as user freiendly, and OSX is a disapointment in terms of operation and security issues.

      I see Windows 7 as a vast improvement over XP, no dissapointment there.
      GuidingLight
      • RE: ... disappointed?

        <font color=#808080><em>"<strong><a href="http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT9423084269.html" target="_blank">Linux is a disapointment</a></strong> as it is <strong>still not as user freiendly</strong>, and OSX is a disapointment in terms of operation and security issues."</em></font>

        What does <strong>LLinux</strong> have to do with what the <a href="http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-17932-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=60876&messageID=1120743" target="_self">OP</a> said?<br>

        ^o^<br>
        <br>
        n0neXn0ne
      • You are a disapointment...

        for going off topic and bashing an OS that wasn't even mentioned.
        JMGM
      • OS X a security disapointment???

        > OSX is a disapointment in terms of operation and security issues.

        As opposed to Windows? Which ever way you look at it, OS X is more
        secure than Windows and it is not even close.

        The number of documented Windows exploits is in the hundreds of
        thousands while the number for OS X is zero. The reason cannot be
        market share alone (i.e., "security through obscurity"). A hacker would
        gain tremendous bragging rights if he/she were the first to write an
        OS X exploit. Second, this argument becomes weaker and weaker with
        time. Macs market share in the US is approaching 10%. Furthermore
        Mac users tend to be more affluent which is an extremely attractive
        demographic for hackers with criminal intent.

        With Unix, OS X, and Linux, security in a multi-user networked
        environment was designed from the ground up. With Windows,
        security was added as an after thought. And it is extremely difficult
        for Microsoft to really fix the problem once and for all without
        breaking backwards compatibility.

        The single biggest problem with Windows is most home users still run
        with administrative privileges. This is not entirely Windows fault, since
        developers were lazy and took short cuts. As a consequence running
        Windows without admin privileges is a pain. This difference makes
        Windows inherently less secure.

        KonradK
        • Good comment

          Except for the last paragraph.

          MS gave developers the ability to write apps with administrative privileges. Linux never did nor would Linux users stand for such idiocy.

          Windows was just never set up to be run by a limited user.

          Otherwise, really good comment.
          tmsbrdrs
        • Mac OS X Documented Exploits > 0

          Er ... I understand that you are a rampant fanboi, but you are dead wrong in regards to Mac OS X exploits. I can think of three major examples of Mac OS X malware in the last six months without even straining too hard. Ya know, actual trojans that affected real people?

          1.) iLife 09 Exploit
          2.) Quicktime Hijack
          3.) Adobe CS4 Exploit

          While you might say that these are trojans and don't count; or that they only affect people who are engaged in risky behavior and similarly don't count, etc ... By far the majority of Windows people who get infected are also engaged in piracy or otherwise "risky behavior."

          Further, there are true exploits on both platforms. Last year during the pwn competition, the Mac was the first machine compromised by the security researchers.

          Mac OS X has many positive things going for it. It doesn't help your cause if you have to make up additional points. That's called lying.
          __________________________

          <a href="http://www.oak-tree.us/blog">Oak-Tree.us/Blog</a>
          Rob Oakes
          • Zero in the wild - that's the point.

            [i]"Er ... I understand that you are a rampant fanboi, but you are dead
            wrong in regards to Mac OS X exploits. I can think of three major
            examples of Mac OS X malware in the last six months without even
            straining too hard. Ya know, actual trojans that affected real people?
            "[/i]

            What's worse, a fanboi or a wannabe techie who doesn't know what
            he's talking about? I believe the point is that there are zero OS X
            actual viruses in the wild. No matter how you spin this, Windows has
            the worst track record. Further, trojans are social issues, not security
            issues. If your trojan requires the end user to supply a password, it's
            not very effective, is it? Prior to Vista, trojans didn't require user authorization on Windows. I have to laugh at the examples you
            provided. Really, if you have to rely on trojans that are only available
            through bit torrent downloads, then you don't have much of a case to
            make.

            As for the pwn2own competition you referenced, you should also
            realize that the Mac hack came after the initial rules were relaxed to
            allow for more than remote attacks. That is, a specific piece of
            software (Safari in this case) had to be running. Here's a quote from
            the actual details:

            [b]"Nobody was able to hack into the systems on the first day of the
            contest when contestants were only allowed to attack the computers
            over the network, but on Thursday the rules were relaxed so that
            attackers could direct contest organizers using the computers to do
            things like visit Web sites or open e-mail messages."[/b]

            In short, it's not an OS issue as much as it is an individual piece of
            software issue. Further, requiring someone to visit a specific OS,
            specific browser, etc. to a specific URL isn't exactly realistic in the real
            world.

            [i]"Mac OS X has many positive things going for it. It doesn't help your
            cause if you have to make up additional points. That's called lying."[/i]

            Your representation of OS X security is either lying or ignorance. I'll
            give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it's due to ignorance.
            techconc
          • You're a moron

            Those three malware examples were "in the wild." They affected tens of thousands of people. The Quicktime flaw relied upon existing vulnerabilities in Quicktime. They're malware, dumbass.

            Oh, and the Mac has also been infected with viruses. This <a href="http://www.sophos.com/pressoffice/news/articles/2006/02/macosxleap.html">article</a> might help jog your memory. You can stick your fingers in your ears and yell all you want, but the perfect Mac record has been shattered. It just takes one malware example to mar perfect, and we are now up to a tally of four.

            Re: Pwn2Own, the Mac STILL went down before both the Vista and the Linux machines. Even though the rules were relaxed. Are you claiming that Mac OS X is more insecure than a patched Vista install? Or shall we just conclude that the Mac developer community can't write secure software worth a damn?

            My stance has nothing to do with ignorance, just a brief look at the facts.
            __________________________

            <a href="http://www.oak-tree.us/blog">Oak-Tree.us/Blog</a>
            Rob Oakes
          • Speaking of the clueless

            Have you ever owned a Mac? Didn't think so, because if you did your experience might be like most who do, zero infections 10+ years.
            Buy yourself a clue.
            GoPower
          • Wrong... try again!

            For starters, you are changing the argument to malware. Malware
            goes beyond security issues into programs that just do bad things,
            including trojans. Exploits are essentially potential problems that one
            day might manifest themselves in the form of a virus, worm, etc.
            You've now taken the argument to include any type of malware which
            would include trojans. Well, congratulations, no system will ever by
            safe from trojans as they are not security issues, rather they are social
            engineering issues.

            Second, you seem quite smug by referencing an article that incorrectly
            labeled something as a virus. Yes, this made sensational headlines
            years ago but there is a problem with your argument. It's a trojan and
            not a virus. Obviously virus software companies want to sound the
            panic alarm prematurely in hopes of sales. If you're actually
            interested in the details, you might start reading about it. Here's an
            example: http://www.securityfocus.com/brief/142

            Specifically:
            [b]"The malicious code uses social engineering tactics to infect a
            user's system, and does not exploit any security holes in OS X."[/b]

            Sorry to burst your bubble. But, I am happy to help with your
            ignorance issue.

            [i]"Re: Pwn2Own, the Mac STILL went down before both the Vista and
            the Linux machines. Even though the rules were relaxed. Are you
            claiming that Mac OS X is more insecure than a patched Vista install?
            "[/i]

            OS X is certainly no less secure than Vista. This contest proved that
            none of the operating systems could be hacked without relaxing the
            rules. As for standard installs, that's a moving target. Every update
            from either side essentially changes the rules. Clearly the same
            exploit that once existed is no longer an issue.

            [i]"Or shall we just conclude that the Mac developer community can't
            write secure software worth a damn?"[/i]

            Seeing as though Vista was Pwned through another program (Flash I
            believe), only a moron would make that conclusion. Oh, sorry, I
            forgot who I was talking to. ;-)

            [i]"My stance has nothing to do with ignorance, just a brief look at the
            facts."[/i]

            Okay, I've updated your "facts". If you still continue to push this
            argument in light of the detail I provided, then I will go back to
            assuming ignorance on your part.
            techconc
          • Further annihilation of your post

            RobSOakes did a good job of annihilating most of the points in your post but I thought I would further it.

            [i]In short, it's not an OS issue as much as it is an individual piece of software issue.[/i]

            Um, Safari is installed [b]by default[/b] and was written [b]by Apple[/b]. An OS is a combination of kernel, drivers, libraries, [b]and applications that are installed by default[/b].

            [i]Further, requiring someone to visit a specific OS, specific browser, etc. to a specific URL isn't exactly realistic in the real world.[/i]

            Sweet!! You've just announced to the world that 99.999% of all Windows malware isn't realistic! After all, nearly [b]all[/b] Windows malware requires the user to browse to an infected site and you've just announced that these don't count! Uh oh, time to update the Apple attack ads!
            NonZealot
      • What article are you reading?

        Besides your lack of understanding of what's being discussed here you are also misinformed about OS X benefits are! Besides forgetting that Windows 7 is a "upgrade" Windows Vista not XP! Get a clue!
        smacsteve
      • Facts not in evidence.

        Windows is not user friendly. Not in the slightest. Stick a new user in front of it and they are helpless. For a user friendly OS, it has been infected billions of times, spawned a multi-billion $ repair industry, huge 3rd party tool marketplace and cost geeks countless hours fixing all the things that break in an easy to use OS.

        A stock Linux install, no more, no less friendly than Windows. OS-X, no real idea, never used it, probably never will. The only turn key user friendly truly newbie ready computers today are the Acer Aspire One and EEE with their custom Linux distro's. Can't comment on the HP MEI, but suspect it is easy too. If you can move a mouse, you can use these, no installing applications, no trials of anti-malware, av, no need to call your geek buddy, etc.

        I would also certainly hope that Windows 7 is an improvement over XP, seeing as how XP is two releases (and closing in on ten years) old. That's hardly a ringing endorsement though. Kind of like my 2009 Toyota corolla is so much better than a 2001 corolla.

        TripleII
        TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
    • nice try troll boy

      Win 7 a disappointment before it's even shipped?
      tech_walker
  • There 24 problems with using Opera Mobile...

    ...and they equal the number of US Dollars required to be laid out in order to use it on a PPC, or Smartphone.
    IT_Guy_z
    • I never understood that line of thinking

      I'm not a fan of Opera, but if someone pays $300, $400, $500 dollars for a smartphone, why is $25 for software suddenly expensive?

      I'm not talking about the whole IE mobile vs. Opera thing specifically (because MS should provide a better built-in browser), but I often hear the same comments about software generically.

      In fact, the same is going on in the iPod Touch / iPhone world. God forbid an iPhone app would cost more than a couple dollars yet everyone happily signed up on a 3-year contract that makes an iPhone worth well over a thousand dollars!

      croberts
      • Very simple...

        ...their browser for PCs & Macs is FREE. Why should I pay for it on a PDA or Smartphone?
        IT_Guy_z
        • You pay for the features, performance...

          The Opera mobile browser versus the Windows Internet Explorer browser renders pages more accurately for starters. Also the zoom feature on Opera is very impressive, where as Mobile Internet Explorer doesn't have it. There are additional things that help justify the cost...

          You pay for those things for a reason. I'm getting a Palm Pre when it comes out though, so I'll be taking a break from the Windows Mobile world personally starting later this year.
          DonRupertBitByte
    • It came with my phone

      I didn't have to pay any extra for it on the HTC Touch Diamond. Opera Mobile is the best non-hosted mobile browser, bar none.
      NonZealot