The Electric Wand

Weekly tips from the "Tip o' the Week" email distribution inside of Microsoft.

What next for Windows Mobile?

What next for Windows Mobile?

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Windows Mobile

I've been a big fan of Windows Mobile for years - ever since the original Orange SPV Smartphone, the ability to easily sync contacts & calendar onto the phone and the way Windows Mobile handles that data, is far more useful than email, IMHO. I even posted about a cool feature nearly 5 years ago :)

Sure, the phone's had some improving to do since those early days, but the ease of integration was the killer reason to adopt Windows Mobile rather than the various other sync or push-email options (like Nokia's clunky software to sync contacts, or Good/Blackberry type dedicated email devices that grew to become usable phones).

Now Windows Mobile seems to have gone very quiet. Even though it's successful (shipping 18 million devices last financial year, according to IDC) and there are a handful of decent devices (more details here), the "shiny factor" is very much with Apple's iPhone, Blackberry's Storm, Nokia's ever-expanding range, and even the very-much-v1 T-Mobile G1 running Google's Android OS.

The fact that Windows Mobile - as a collective - is out-shipping the iPhone by some multiple (at least in the enterprise) seems to be considered a temporary situation by many commentators, even though analysts predict it to continue for a while to come.

It says a lot that when Forbes commented on the market, they didn't even make mention of Windows Mobile devices.

Any newspaper or glossy magazine reviews that do side-by-side comparisons of the latest hot gadgets, seem to think that if a Windows Mobile-powered device is any good, it's almost despite the OS that runs on it, rather than because of it. As an example, CNet rated the iPhone 3G at 8.9, and gave the HTC Touch HD 8.8 - saying that it's a shame it doesn't run Android (due to perceived usability/UI issues they had).

Maybe there's a point - I happen to like the WM UI, certainly when compared with any other proprietary mobile phone UI, but in direct comparison with the smoothness of some of its latest competitors, it can look dated, and so far, the Shiny Shiny WM phones have had some kind of 3rd-party UI, like HTC's TouchFlo.

So what's next?

Well, there are rumours of a Windows Mobile 6.5 - confirmed by Steve Ballmer, though only in passing - coming next year, with Windows Mobile 7 on the horizon sometime after that.

Terry Myerson - ex-lead of development and latterly Vice President of Exchange, is now the big cheese at Windows Mobile. I know Terry well, and if anyone can energise the development of the next couple of releases of the software, I think he can.

I'm still using an "Excalibur" device - like Steve, I'm a bit out of touch with the state of the art but I find the size, shape & functionality suits me down to the ground. It'll be nice to see what comes next...

In the meantime, have a nice Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone!

Comments
  • CNET said that? Wow, I think that's pretty unprofessional and dumb.

    People have a point though - WinMo (or Windows Mobile) works fine for the most part, but that's about it. All the other competition seem to have much more compelling devices and operating systems. If someone asked how is WinMo better than the iPhone? Android? etc. It'd be difficult for me to come up with any reasons, except that there's tons of software out there that you can put on your phone. That's about it.

    Here's where I think WinMo falls short:

    - the UI is outdated. It may be ok, but people would love something aesthetically pleasing, icons more richer than simple ugly ones, very slick, sleek and swift.

    - media playing experience is lacking - WMP 10 is pretty old by now, and if it could support more codecs and play faster, it wouldn't be so bad. But the player is really ugly and it's just not a nice experience, than say a Zune would be.

    - web browser - It's not a competition here. In this day and age, PIE is the worst mobile browser there is. I'm quite surprised how long it's taken to update it. Even if the new mobile IE will be based on the IE6 engine, it will be no match for the other mobile browsers out there.

    - Useful tools built-in - You can't depend on 3rd party developers for everything. It'd be nice if tools were built into the OS. Like speech recognition/voice commands, GPS, screen capture, etc.

    - Lack of stringent hardware requirements - In the past, I found a lot of WinMo phone sorely lacking in hardware features. Stuff like Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS, high speed processor, GPU, etc. should be mandatory. It'd also make 3rd party developing a lot easier so they can actually make apps for all WinMo phones, not just specific ones.

    -Etc.

    I could go on and on, but point is, is that WinMo isn't really going anywhere on the consumer level. Maybe on the enterprise level, but not really much for consumers. At least not hype-worthy. It's just lucky there are nice companies like HTC, and good phones like the T-mobile Shadow, that keep consumers buying WinMo phones.

  • Having just read Andrew Orlowski’s article over on The Register , it chimes exactly with a belief I’ve

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