Microsoft was expected to reveal their new Windows Mobile operating system, previously codenamed Crossbow, on Monday at the 3GSM event in Spain. Events suddenly changed and the NDA was lifted a few days early so stayed up much later than planned to give all of my readers here my first take on Windows Mobile 6 since I have been using it for the last month on a Windows Mobile Smartphone device. Joel Evans, Chief Geek at Geek.com, and I have been working together the last few weeks and Joel already posted his first impressions on Geek.com.
|Image Gallery: Check out my Windows Mobile 6 first take image gallery and stay tuned for more screenshots as I try out a Phone Edition device soon.|
The first thing to get straight regarding Windows Mobile 6 is that the devices have been reclassified by Microsoft as Windows Mobile 6 Classic (non-phone Pocket PCs), Standard (Windows Mobile non-touchscreen Smartphones), and Professional (Pocket PC Phone Edition) devices. I'm not sure if this will clear things up or not, but most people seem to call devices like the Treo Smartphones anyways so I don't think it will create anymore confusion than is already out there.
I can confirm from personal experience with a beta of Windows Mobile 6 that many of the changes made by Microsoft have been targeted at improving the user experience. A small list of major new features and improvements includes:
- Improved email menus and controls
- HTML email support Exchange Server 2007 support with advanced features such as viewing the status of meeting attendees
- Windows Live integration with a much needed Windows Live Messenger overhaul, Windows Live push email support, and more
- Office Mobile support available on all Windows Mobile devices
- Contact management improvements Security improvements to help IT managers with mobile devices
- Internet Sharing utility to use you Windows Mobile phone as a wireless modem
Email: I use my Windows Mobile Smartphone primarily for email management and the first difference I noticed was the Delete soft key added to the main email display. I can now quickly delete emails without having to push a soft key twice. There are several more one click/press options in the Messaging application to help you be a bit more efficient and productive. Microsoft also includes smart filtering in Messaging so as you start to enter a name your email is filtered for you which makes it very easy to find emails in your accounts.
Calendar: I have been testing out Agenda One on my T-Mobile Dash and was happy to see Microsoft work a bit to improve their Calendar application in Windows Mobile 6. You can now see a calendar ribbon on the top of the Agenda view and in the week view that allows you to quickly see when you have appointments scheduled during the day. Agenda One still has many more customization options, but I do like this improvement in Windows Mobile 6.
Contacts and Phone: The other area of Windows Mobile 6 where I found MAJOR improvements was in the Contacts and Phone functionality. You can now go into a Contact card and after selecting the last call be taken to a history of all the calls with the contact, including the time, data, and duration of the call. You can also now assign MP3 files as ringtones, including files stored on an external storage card. You also have lots of new default ringtones to select from and some cool new vibration modes like pulsing vibrate and multiple vibrate.
Office Mobile: One aspect of Windows Mobile Smartphones that prevented me from completing dropping a Phone Edition was the lack of Office Mobile support. With Windows Mobile 6 all three categories of devices have the capability for Office Mobile. Including Office Mobile on Standard devices is still a final decision to be made by carriers and manufacturers, but the Standard device I have been tested had Office Mobile and the experience was pleasant. You get viewing and basic editing capabilities in Word Mobile and Excel Mobile, but there is no ability to create documents from scratch. You also can only view PowerPoint presentations with PowerPoint Mobile. If you are looking for complete Office functionality on a Standard device then I highly recommend you check out the outstanding Documents To Go for Windows Mobile Smartphone application. I imagine that most people with a Standard device, most of which have traditional phone keypads, will be very pleased with the viewing and basic editing capabilities in Windows Mobile 6. Office Mobile on Classic and Professional devices has also been improved to maintain original formatting without affecting tables, images, or text.
Live Messenger: I used MSN Messenger on my Windows Mobile devices in the past, but have to say Messenger was pretty basic and lame so I usually used 3rd party applications. Windows Live Messenger is greatly improved now with the ability to add photos, voice clips, and files to conversations. You also now get emoticon support and the ability to add participants to the conversation.
I can't reveal any details on devices running Windows Mobile 6 at this time, but stay tuned to 3GSM news where new devices should be announced. Windows Mobile 6 devices will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2007. There has been no news regarding upgrade plans for existing devices and most of the time carriers and manufacturers control what devices get upgrades.