And that's fair enough, because Windows Mobile devices will only synchronise with Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Exchange Servers.
It seems the Microsoft Mobile and Embedded Division is again giving too much power to the OEM/ODM... I just found through Experience Mobility that HP has decided to skip the Microsoft Outlook from the product CD, forcing users who purchase their HP iPaq to have to go out of their way and also buy Microsoft Outlook, separately:
Microsoft Outlook is not provided on the HP iPAQ Getting Started CD and must be purchased separately from Microsoft. Customers can go to office.microsoft.com and follow the on-screen instructions to purchase the available version of Microsoft Outlook.
This move is really strange. It looks like coming from a newbie product manager who never dealt with Windows Mobile before and thought that Microsoft Outlook was just a freebie, not a requirement.
Is this a cost reduction decision? Or simply HP making all it's in their power to annoy consumers? Don't they realise this will increase support costs? Are we going to see an equivalent reduction in price of these devices?
My first Pocket PC was a HP iPaq h3970. The second (and one of the best Pocket PC ever!) was the HP iPaq h4150. Since then I played with two other devices and briefly touched their new Windows Mobile Smartphone (not the best thing in the Smartphone world, I have to say).
I completely lost contact with HP in the last two years. The New Zealand subsidiary is not really into the Windows Mobile space and e-mails go unanswered, promises do not turn into reality...
Worth a read...
It means I can't install my self-issued Root Certificate, which I need to synchronise the device to my Exchange server.
I know i-mate will supply a signed certificate loader program for their Smartphones. I've asked Vodafone for something similar.
In the meantime, I have successfully used the hack that unlocks the Windows Mobile SDA and installed my certificate. The hack is a signed registry editor (so that I can change some security policies), and a PC tools that "unlocks" the device. Google it and you will find more information.
It's a shame manufacturers and operators can't get this right. It's a great security feature, but why is it possible to install a Root Certificate on Windows Mobile Pocket PC, but Windows Mobile Smartphone is so locked down? I know a few organisations that actually issue their own Root Certificates. I hope Vodafone comes back to me with a proper signed certificate loader program.
Ooops. Better stop complaining, or Pocket PCs will be locked down too.
Vodafone (worldwide) had an exclusive deal with Palm to launch the first Window Mobile-powered GSM/UMTS Treo in Europe and other markets, with some customisations and called Treo 750v.
Back when the Treo 750v was launched, Vodafone hinted that it would support its HSDPA services, with speeds much higher than UMTS. Lots of registry hacks showed up allowing users to enable this faster service, but with side effects.
Now Telstra has announced the launch of Palm Treo 750 in Australia, running on their Next G network, based on HSDPA. By the way, I am not sure what speeds the Treo 750 can reach, but Telstra has just switched on their 14.4 Mbps HSDPA service, just a couple of months after launching a nationwide brand net network.
What about Vodafone Nw Zealand? We have not heard anything about the promised HSDPA ROM update for Windows Mobile since the Treo 750v launch, almost six months ago. And their network is still crawling at 1.8 MBps almost everywhere where it is available (which is not much a large footprint to start with).
Are they still planning to release the Treo 750v update to enable HSDPA on this handset?
My original rant was about users not being able to download updates directly from the manufacturer or an OS upgrade directly from Microsoft. This just shows that having a long chain (Microsoft, OEM, distributor,mobile operator) just hurts the user and don't add anything.
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.
I have now installed Windows Mobile Device Center on my Windows Vista laptop. How frustrating.
USB connection is very unreliable. My i-mate Jasjar connects, but neither the Palm Treo 750v or Palm Treo 700wx will connect, instead showing an error - and no message on why the error, no event log entry, nothing.
Next I tried ActiveSync over Bluetooth. Forget it. It took me three to six attempts on each Pocket PC to manage to pair the devices with my laptop. And I did not achieve ActiveSync over Bluetooth for any of my devices. Incredible because WMDC has an explicit option to allow sync over Bluetooth, actually removing the requirement for a COM port to be defined.
What a piece of software this one. Not good.
There is no question though about its design. The phone looks really nice, and the details and black finish are beautiful. The "pearl" is easy to use for scrolling and clicking, but I didn't like the SureType keyboard that much.
Everyone loves the BlackBerry because of its e-mail capabilities, and that's where I think it has really performed badly.
First I wanted to install the BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server), which is now free for one licensed user, with up to 15 users per server (the additional licenses are not too costly). But after reviewing the 28 page installation manual I decided not to mess with my Exchange Server, which is running perfectly well, thanks... Instead I decided to use IMAP.
IMAP simply is not good with the BlackBerry solution. The way it works it will only synchronise the Inbox, and since I have server rules moving incoming e-mails to different folders, I lost the ability to see those messages. Then whatever I read on the BlackBerry wasn't marked as read on the server. Neither deletion synchronised between the device and the IMAP server. I couldn't move messages from the Inbox to any other folder, and other problems.
In summary, the e-mail functionality was completely broken for me. There was no way to organise my constant flow of messages with that e-mail client and (lack of) synchronisation.
So, I guess the BES experience could be better, but if folder support is not there, then I will pass... I would just want a BlackBerry Pearl design with a Windows Mobile engine and Exchange Server MSFP under the hood.
- Check the Modern Nomads blog... They usually have very long but well written articles on how to use technology to get the best out of it. For example, this week the article "Get more out of your day using a PDA" brings some very useful information for personal information management, including tips on how to reduce the overload of communication that e-mail brings to our lives and more. Worth reading it.
- Mobilty Site is launching a series of mini casts called "Mobility Site Minute". Yep, one minute only, and you get a lot of information for your time. The only problem is that I couldn't find a RSS feed for this series - yet.
Jason Dunn has posted a note on his personal blog ("Thoughts Media Server Falls Down, Goes Boom") with the explanation:
Since I can’t update any of my “real” sites, here’s the scoop: our main server is seriously messed up. It appears to be some sort of database corruption, but running MySQL repairs doesn’t seem to have helped. My limited Linux knowledge is a handicap here - beyond a few basic commands I’m more or less useless. All my volunteer server techs are offline/away/MIA, so I’ve just reached out to a Linux-guns-for-hire company and hopefully they can get things up and running soon.