Windows Mobile; an operating system for adults

Windows Mobile; an operating system for adults

Summary: I just posted my first impressions of the SE XPERIA X1a, which is the Windows Mobile device with the highest specifications available today. Then I read Zack's post a bit later today slamming Windows Mobile so I thought it would be appropriate to address his issues and post why I think Windows Mobile still has a lot to offer even though today they get no respect, as Rodney would say.

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I just posted my first impressions of the SE XPERIA X1a, which is the Windows Mobile device with the highest specifications available today. Then I read Zack's post a bit later today slamming Windows Mobile so I thought it would be appropriate to address his issues and post why I think Windows Mobile still has a lot to offer even though today they get no respect, as Rodney would say.

I have to start out by saying I tend to agree a bit with his recent article discussing touch technology in the computing industry. The iPhone is a fun device, but has too many shortcomings for me to use as my everyday device. Unfortunately, now everyone else thinks they need to focus on touch interfaces as well and IMHO too many companies are focusing on the touch experience. RIM makes excellent BlackBerry devices and should stick with non-touch screen devices and keep innovating there. Nokia and Microsoft have non-touch devices that are fast and stable and work extremely well as phones and I am personally a bit tired of the whole touch focus.

Back when the Pocket PC started out in 2000 there were bugs and issues, but as a HEAVY Windows Mobile user I have to say they have been pretty solid devices the last couple of years and the non-touch screen devices have been rock solid for even longer. I think Zack should switch to a non-touch screen Windows Mobile Smartphone and give that a try before completely dropping Windows Mobile.

If you have an Exchange server like my company does, then there is NO better Exchange experience out there than what you find on a Windows Mobile device. I love that I can access my global address list, setup and respond to appointment requests from multiple attendees, search my server email account, quickly smart filter through my email, and have a seamless experience on the go. I actually prefer to create appointments and quickly browse through email on my Windows Mobile device rather than using Outlook on the PC.

You can find 3rd party applications to turn your device into a mobile computer, including a FULL Office suite from SoftMaker, Project applications, database applications, and much, much more. I personally load up about 20 applications right off the bat when I get a new device and try out more every week as I look to make my device perfect for my needs.

Windows Mobile also has an extensive 3rd party developer community that supports the platform and if you are a tweaker like me you can find many treasures over at the XDA Developers site. Granted, new users shouldn't have to go there to tweak a device they buy and I don't think they have to. The option to customize and make your device even better is there though and that is a strength of the platform in my book. It is pretty rare to find any mobile phone that lets you print, but there are actually 3rd party application for Windows Mobile that let you do this.

I will also agree with Zack that there are aspects of Windows Mobile that Microsoft needs to completely take out or revamp, including the customer improvement option, useless Windows update utility, Internet Explorer Mobile, and Windows Media Player Mobile. They need to slap in the Zune interface for media and upgrade the browser or just use Opera Mobile like all the manufacturers are today anyways.

I think Zack needs to try out a Palm Treo Pro or a non-touch screen Windows Mobile device, but given his ranting post I don't think he will give the platform another chance. I rarely touch the display on my Palm Treo Pro, which is one major reason I like it because I get the full power of the Windows Mobile Professional OS without having to touch the display much.

Zack, you might want to check your recollection of history since Palm has not had the upper hand for years and is a company that needed a spark from CES 2008 to even remain relevant in the mobile space. True, Palm was the leader in the mobile space for many years and I still can't believe how fast Microsoft was able to overtake them and pass them up for good. Windows Mobile actually ended up keeping Palm on a lifeline for a couple years and now their new WebOS needs to get launched to keep them afloat and help make them competitive again. Palm let Microsoft pass them up because Microsoft was offering devices that could "do it all" and Palm said people just wanted to use a PDA as an organizer. Palm was wrong and now Microsoft has to make some changes to do what they do better. However, they are very relevant in the enterprise space even today and offer solid products in just about any form factor you could want, which is another strength of the platform.

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

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  • Why Palm became irrelevant

    Palm "lost" the PDA battle for a couple of reasons. They lost focus on simple, cheap devices and tried to make a "do everything" device. Dedicated mobile media devices like the iPod took away that part of their market, Windows Mobile took away the corporate market (even though most who had to switch from Palm OS to Windows Mobile hated the experience).

    Microsoft were able to prop up their poorly performing WM with profits from other parts of their business so they just hung in their, waiting for Palm to go away. Palm didn't have that luxury.

    MS also weren't responsible for the devices, so they didn't have to bear the losses in that area either whereas Palm had to compete with giants like Dell, HP, etc. Note that a number of WM devices left the market in the early days, whereas Palm had to battle on.

    Finally, when mobile phones started to do much of what PDAs did, Palm couldn't compete against Nokia, Ericsson, Philips, [i]et al[/i]. Again, MS didn't have that issue. They had loyal OEMs like HP to keep putting out low volume, low margin devices that kept WM on shelves.

    So MS "won" the PDA war by default. Palm even tried splitting the OS and hardware parts of the company but it didn't help. The most common Palm OS devices still run the original US Robotics inspired OS 5, Palm OS 6 devices are rare.

    The lack lustre performance of WM is highlighted by the fact that the iPhone managed to grab a bigger market share than WM less than 12 months after release. Think about it - a single product from Apple is out selling all the WM phones from every manufacturer combined.

    Palm have a long road back from oblivion, hopefully their new devices will get them back in the market. Competition is good!
    Fred Fredrickson
    • Not quite accurate

      [i]The lack lustre performance of WM is highlighted by the fact that the iPhone managed to grab a bigger market share than WM less than 12 months after release[/i]

      I don't think your sentence is all that accurate. WM works, and has worked well for business.

      The iPhone was created for consumers, who are a little freer with their money, and that Apple's marketing was geared towards them, convincing people of the need for a phone that will download and play bowling games, music, restaraunts reviews, ect. is what they needed.

      Apple took a chance, and it worked. Not becuase WM is lackluster, or that the iPhone is heaven sent, but because of where and who it was geared towards.

      Ask the average person or teenager if they heard of WM, WebOS, even Adroid (G1) and you'll get a lot of "No"'s. Ask them if they heard of the iPhone, and you'll get a lot of "Yes"'s.

      Now ask that of the business world, and look to see what is primarilly used.

      It wasn't "loyalty" that keeps WM on phones, it's what business is asking for that does.
      AllKnowingAllSeeing
      • Just so you know the iPhone has made in roads to

        business and thats fairly impressive considering its fairly young and
        entered a well established market don't you think?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
        • OK Jim...

          ...lets see details of those inroads please and how they compare to RIM and WinMo's market share.
          Sleeper Service
          • I said it was impressive for a device that is only

            what 18 months old now and it is. Now my company already supports
            the iPhone as well as the BB. Don't know of any WM phones being
            used here. We have several people using the iPhone as their business
            phone. Now by far the majority is still BB but that has gone down for
            100 percent only a few short months ago.

            Now as for other articles you can check out MacSurfer they often have
            such. I'm sure you've seem some yourself.

            The point being not all needs are the same. I'm certain there are still
            thing the iPhone does not do and still people who prefer and actual
            keyboard even "IF" they give the virtual as much time as they gave the
            mini keyboards you find on phones now a days. That said there is no
            cut and dry MUST HAVE features that fit everyones needs to a T and
            the iPhone is being used in business today.

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
          • Inroads?

            I work for one of the largest software company in the world (I don't want to name it, but is has over 60K employees), and in my casual observation, over 50% of my colleagues in R&D (where I work) have iPhones. Actually, quite a few of them have developed very interesting (corporate) applications using the iPhone as a client...
            Eleutherios
          • You want numbers?

            There are a stack of the, ever heard of Google? Here's an article from
            ZDNet showing iPhone sales topped Windows Mobile sales in February
            2008. That's right, 6 months before the launch of the 3G iPhone, it had
            already topped Windows Mobile sales.

            I'm not saying the iPhone is the greatest phone ever, I was using it as an
            example of the poor [b]sales[/b] performance of Windows Mobile.
            Fred Fredrickson
          • Ooops... here' the links

            Nov 07: iPhone Tops Windows Mobile Devices in Web Browsing
            <URL: http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?
            qprid=10&qptimeframe=M&qpsp=106&qpmr=14&qpdt=1&qpct=0&s
            ample=4 >

            7 Feb 08: Windows Mobile falls behind iPhone in latest mobile-market
            numbers
            <URL: http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1163 >

            4 Dec 08: iPhone tops Windows Mobile in worldwide market share,
            and how Microsoft blew it
            <URL: http://www.edibleapple.com/iphone-tops-windows-mobile-
            in-worldwide-market-share/ >

            Pretty conclusive evidence the iPhone is giving Windows Mobile
            devices a hiding, even as early as late 2007.

            Remember that iPhone is a single device that is outselling [b]all[/b]
            windows mobile devices combined. The claim that this is because it
            targets consumers rather than business simply doesn't stack up.
            Apparently Windows desktop outsells Mac OS because of business
            sales - you can't have it both ways.

            The simple fact is that people buy iPhones becaue they like them, they
            don't care what the OS is. They don't buy Windows Mobile devices
            because they don't like them, not necessarily because they are running
            Windows Mobile.

            Fred Fredrickson
          • Links got mangled...

            Nov 07: iPhone Tops Windows Mobile Devices in Web Browsing
            http://marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx?
            qprid=10&qptimeframe=M&qpsp=106&qpmr=14&qpdt=1&qpct=0&s
            ample=4

            7 Feb 08: Windows Mobile falls behind iPhone in latest mobile-market
            numbers
            http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1163

            4 Dec 08: iPhone tops Windows Mobile in worldwide market share,
            and how Microsoft blew it
            http://www.edibleapple.com/iphone-tops-windows-mobile-in-
            worldwide-market-share/

            Pretty conclusive evidence the iPhone is giving Windows Mobile
            devices a hiding, even as early as late 2007.

            Remember that iPhone is a single device that is outselling [b]all[/b]
            windows mobile devices combined. The claim that this is because it
            targets consumers rather than business simply doesn't stack up.
            Apparently Windows desktop outsells Mac OS because of business
            sales - you can't have it both ways.

            The simple fact is that people buy iPhones becaue they like them, they
            don't care what the OS is. They don't buy Windows Mobile devices
            because they don't like them, not necessarily because they are running
            Windows Mobile.


            Fred Fredrickson
          • Two points...

            1) iPhone sold about 15-16 million units (both models) in 2008. There were 20 million WinMo equipped phones sold.

            The iPhone is not outselling WinMo. Links in silly blogs who don't understand that one quarter's peak sales do not a trend make won't change that especially when sales drop by about 40% the following quarter.

            2) Website usage is not an indicator of corporate penetration. In addition, sites like Hitlinks do not count WAP enabled browsers or mobile sites which most WinMo phones are configured to use as default.

            Now if you can actually show me where the iPhone has made significant pentration in enterprise we can discuss this further.
            Sleeper Service
        • Actually...

          ...have you had any serious business users make the switch from a BlackBerry or a WM6 device to an iPhone? I have. One of them was so frustrated with the thing he threw the iPhone out of the window of his car going 40 mph down the road. Another dozen or so users I deal with have returned the iPhone almost immediately. Nevermind the fact that most business users I know have 0 interest in ATT as their mobile carrier.

          iPhone 2 brought ActiveSync for business users and it works fairly well. However, business users are not okay with shorthand or lots of typos and on the iPhone, that means a lot of backspacing. Most business users need their phones for one thing and one thing only: E-mail. Everything else is just candy coating that doesn't really matter. So to say the iPhone has made "inroads" into business is foolhardy at best. Any serious road warrior that needs to be able to hammer out a few sentences quickly will avoid the iPhone. <-- Period
          LiquidLearner
          • Don't understand the typo thing....

            You did not explain why they were getting typo's. I'll assume that it's
            because they have not adjusted to the virtual keyboard correct? Well as
            they say time heals all and so does getting use to something new. If they
            were not smart enough to give it the iPhone and its features a serious
            test and study before purchase then it was not the failure of said device
            but the lack of well smarts of your business people. I'd keep an eye on
            them if I were you...:P

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
          • not for everyone

            I can type just as quickly and accurately, if not more quickly now, on my iPhone than I was able to on either of my QWERTY WinMo devices. The word correction seems to be more accurate. I was near the point of throwing out my WinMo devices out of frustration with the crummy UI and annoying little nuances of the OS.
            bsweetser
          • Virtual doesn't do the job for a lot of people

            Pagan: You are such a fanboy. I have the BlackBerry Curve for my phone/PDA, and an iPod Touch for my entertainment device. Hands down, when I want to watch a movie I'll do it on my iPod Touch. However, when I want to do anything that requires typing more than 50 words, then also hands down I pick up my BB Curve. The virtual keyboard is nicely done on the iPhone/iPod Touch, but it will NEVER substitute for the physical keyboard of my BlackBerry.

            Good grief, I have a Vista laptop, a Mac Mini, a Treo 800w with WinMo, besides my already mentioned devices. My point is that none of them are good enough to slobber over so badly that I can't be objective about them. Pagan, if Apple ever went belly up, you'd probably die from sorry from not having anything left. Same thing goes for ShadeTree and others who think Microsoft is the greatest company known to mankind. Please, be objective for once.
            Aragorn_z
          • I was offered an iPhone and am glad I took it

            I can type on iPhone touchscreen just fine, it was easy. I get all my email from both corporate exchange servers and other sources I have for personal email. ZERO problems with backspacing or typos, the space for the keys on the is larger than the BlackBerry where the small keys made typing difficult. You know what, I liked my BlackBerry that was made available to me at work, I just like my work issued iPhone better. Either would be acceptable to me in work setting.


            BTW, I use a LG Voyager with a touch screen as my personal phone, not an iPhone or a BlackBerry. The iPhone is better than the Voyager too but I still got a year left on the contract so I will see how I feel about the iPhone next year before purchasing one for my personal use. Who knows, maybe something better will be available then?
            ThePrairiePrankster
        • Not really all to impressive

          as A couple of companies does not a trend make.

          We looked at different models during out upgrade cycle, including the iPhone, which was eliminated early on along with a few other devices.

          We did decide on the model which best suited all for the business, and WinMobile was the operating system of coice on the phone chosen.

          GuidingLight
          • Not when you put it that way

            but there are quite a lot of companies jumping on the iPhone. A couple, my foot. You can try to sell it short, but it is starting to crest over corporate America. The iPhone is still in it's infancy. How bout we recap 5 yrs from now. approx less then the untire lifetime of WinMo and see how things stand then, k?
            Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
          • So numbers please...

            ...because I don't know of any major corporations that are switching at all.

            Bluntly the most they'll do is support personal models and that's it.
            Sleeper Service
          • Not necessarily switching

            But supporting yes, which really is the point. They are making inroads to big business. Every single major company I have worked with lately is picking up support for the iPhone. No, I don't have numbers but seeing it with my own eyes in the varied markets that I work with says that support is building and it's only the beginning. 5 yrs from now, there will be no question whatsoever.
            Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
      • Where WM 5 through 6.1 Fails

        I've been using Windows Mobile since version 5 (on a Treo) because of its integration with Exchange. Currently, I'm on WM 6.1 on a recent Samsung phone, and I'm pretty tired of dealing with it.

        Here's the lowdown:
        When Windows Mobile works, it's a nice, flexible business OS.
        When it doesn't work, it's REALLY frustrating.

        Every WM phone I've owned has had stability issues:

        #1. Power Suckage
        You have to turn off a lot of functionality to get decent lifespan out of it. Otherwise, if I forget to plug in my phone at night, it's dead or almost dead by morning. Even on an extended battery.

        #2. Ghost In The Machine
        Sometimes my phone just does things by itself. I'll leave it on the Today screen at night, and in the morning, it will be on the Alarms screen with a new alarm set up for a random time. Or maybe it'll be on the contacts screen. Either way, nobody has touched that phone, and it's made changes by itself (I have screen locking to ensure changes aren't just from accidental button/screen presses in my pocket).

        #3. Black Screen o' Death
        Occasional lockups that force me to pull out the battery and put it back in. Sometimes the LEDs work, sometimes not. Sometimes I have to pull the battery multiple times. I am no Luddite by any means - there is no other way to get it working.

        #4. Random Calling
        This might be like #2, but all my phones have had times where they get stuck in a loop calling the same contact over and over again (even when the phone is just sitting on a table by itself)

        #5. Random App Crashes
        Apps like Fring and Skyfire will crash all the time. Granted, I only use those two apps on my newer phone, but other apps crash a lot on WM5, too. I simply get a message that the app has stopped working. Irritating.

        There are other minor things, but those are my top 5 grievances with Windows Mobile. All WM phones seem to be subject to these problems so far. I was hoping the 6.1 update would fix the issues, and the crashes DO happen less, but they're still happening (and there are minor other problems introduced, like with the threaded SMS not always reporting new messages).

        In all, it doesn't seem like the WM OS hasn't matured much over the past 4-5 years. Microsoft really needs to do something drastic if they want to compete with the iPhone-type OSes.
        jhilgeman