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Windows Mobile 6: update or not

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Feb-2007 11:58

One of the things I think is really annoying on Windows Mobile (and I have put this forward to the Microsoft MVP leads and developer teams many times, as others did), is the fact that we users are in the hands of the manufacturers when it comes to updates.

Unlike desktop and laptops running Microsoft Windows software, Pocket PCs running Windows Mobile do not have a Hardware Abstraction Layer (or so we are told). It means that each device needs a very highly fully (insert other adjectives here) customised version of the OS, specific for that hardware.

Things are even crazier with Pocket PC Phone Edition, because the cellular radio requires a step further, including in some cases certification by the mobile operator launching the devices.

Mobile operators are a beastly kind of companies. They need to keep their cellular networks running, they must certifiy devices, they are now Internet providers while until a few years ago they only provided voice services, and more. If they are GSM operator they even have to provide some support to people purchasing never seen before handsets from parallel importers trying to connect and use their services.

Also, if the operator works with CDMA they have to certify each model connected to their network. GSM operators don't have this problem, but they still create their own customised versions of some handsets to guarantee they work with their consumer services  (such as Vodafone live! and T-Mobile Web-n-Walk).

It is really annoying to think you buy some hardware that is still very capable, but in one month will see its resale value going down because of a new software being released.

I am talking about Windows Mobile 6. While most Pocket PC devices out there are very capable of running this new version of mobile operating system, I doubt many companies will release updates for existing hardware.

For example, T-Mobile USA has announced they plan to release an update for their T-Mobile Dash, while T-Mobile Europe says they have no plans on updates for the T-Mobile MDA Mail. Yet those two devices are exactly the same!

Of course all the manufacturers want to push down their new hardware, but very capable Pocket PCs exist that would easily run Windows Mobile 6. Yet we all heard of new devices, but no announcements on upgrades for many of the existing Pocket PC and Smartphones running Windows Mobile 5.0.

Sometimes we don't even hear about companies working to release interim updates that fixes problems, even though users try and confirm they work. Consider that creating an update will cost development and testing time, which can be directed into new products.

While new products are exciting - I mean look at the new i-mate Ultimate series! - existing customers are the ones who paid for the companies to get to the point where they can actually create those very cool devices. But it seems they are always left behind.

The i-mate Jasjar, a NZ$2000 3G Pocket PC wannabe mini-laptop, the Apache CDMA Pocket PC, and other Windows Mobile 5.0 are very capable... But people who bought devices in the last two months are screwed. Again.





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Windows Phone updates, again






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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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