Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition: a first look

Microsoft's updated Windows Mobile 2003 is likely to make its debut soon, in smartphones and handhelds sporting new screen resolutions and orientations.

Microsoft has announced an update to its Windows Mobile platform at its Mobile Developer Conference (DevCon) in San Francisco. The new version, called Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, is, like its predecessor, designed to work with both communications-enabled and unconnected devices. Details about the revision remain sketchy, but it seems that both Smartphone and Pocket PC variants (including Pocket PC Phone Edition) of Windows Mobile 2003 will benefit from changes. The only features specifically mentioned by Microsoft in official materials so far are dynamic switching between portrait and landscape screen orientations, support for VGA screen resolution (640 by 480 pixels) and for square-screened displays. Orientation switching and higher resolution support are presumably designed primarily to enhance the standard Pocket PC experience, while square-shaped screens could appear on future smartphones. The enhancements should encourage hardware developers to produce devices with more variability in terms of form factor than we have seen to date.

Smartphones and handhelds
Hardware manufacturers have yet to officially announce device support for Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. However, on the smartphone side, Motorola’s MPx, which was announced late in February and which should be available in the summer, is expected to be the first smartphone we'll see running it in the UK.

Motorola MPx: a smartphone/PDA/emailer hybrid, due in the summer.
The MPx is intended as a blend of mobile phone, PDA and email messenger, and sports a full QWERTY keyboard plus a dual-hinge design that allows the screen to be oriented along either the long edge (landscape mode) or the short edge (portrait mode) of the keyboard section. Meanwhile, on the Pocket PC front, the Asus MyPal A730, shown for the first time at CeBIT last week, would appear to be a likely candidate for Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, as it has support for VGA resolution. However, there is no official word from Asus on this as yet. OS- level support for VGA screen resolution would certainly be a boon in this device, as it would presumably overcome the issue with Toshiba’s e800 -- the only Pocket PC currently offering this resolution – where a soft reset is needed whenever you switch between VGA and the standard QVGA resolution.

Second Edition software
Software developers are less reluctant than their hardware counterparts to announce support, and many are working hard on upgrades to take advantage of VGA and landscape orientation. Among those ready to show off how their new software looks at the new resolutions and in landscape mode are Web Information Solutions, whose Pocket Informant is a popular Personal Information Manager (PIM) for Pocket PC devices.

Web Information Solutions' Pocket Informant, running under Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition in landscape mode (640 by 480 pixels).