But this time one of the changes immediately jumped on me:
- Add syncing with Windows Mobiles phones and Pocket PC devices.
I haven't tested this yet because I first posted here - but it looks promising. If it allows more than one folder to be synchronised to Windows Mobile devices, it's great!
All these devices have equivalents on Sprint (Mogul by HTC, Touch by HTC and Samsung Ace respectively) and will be getting upgrades according to the U.S. release.
So I contacted the helpful folks there and here is the official information I received from Telecom New Zealand:
The Windows 6.1 Phone client has been released into the market, and customers will have access to this - and be able to download the client.
In terms of TNZ devices, we have every intention to provide this updated platform to our customers.
We are awaiting the matching back-end functionality/server platform to be released from Microsoft. This will enable us to test and approve a full end-to-end solution, that has been thoroughly tested on our devices. Timeframe for this part of the solution, is around mid year, with an additional testing leadtime.
Up until that time, customers who do choose to download the upgrade - without it being officially supported or tested by TNZ, may face operating issues, bugs or in some extreme cases - a loss of functionality on their device. This situation is not new, as many applications, software updates, and patches are released by Microsoft & OEM's currently - and should be downloaded or applied by customers at their own risk.
Very nice, providing a tested solution to the market. But it sounds like Telecom's system integrator Gen-i is running the show. I am sure IT Pros will be happy.
But what about the consumer market, those users who just want the latest OS to take advantage of all the new features and enhancements that do not require Microsoft Exchange Server or System Center Device Manager?
I have already heard of people running "cooked" Windows Mobile 6.1 ROMs in some TNZ Titan devices around the country. So this is a great opportunity to bring the official one earlier for consumer users.
We [Microsoft] present the MVP Award to thank individuals for their exceptional contributions to technical communities worldwide. When a community participant sees an MVP in a technical community, whether in a newsgroup, as a user group host, a conference speaker, or a respondent in forums, that community participant can be confident that the information shared by the MVP will be of the highest caliber and will help every user make the most of the technology.
Microsoft also benefits from engaging with MVPs through conferences, user groups, code camps, the MVP Global Summit, and other events. MVPs share their independent, real-world feedback with us, thereby helping Microsoft better understand users' needs, improve current products, and develop future technology.
Customers and technology users who work with Microsoft technologies are encouraged to visit user groups, conferences, and training sessions that are led by MVPs. MVPs are objective technology experts who are eager to share their knowledge. They have no obligation to Microsoft and freely share their expert opinions and experience, earning users' respect and trust.
Here is my MVP profile.
And below you can see the new Zoom features in the updated Internet Explorer Mobile released today with Windows Mobile 6.1:
These screenshots come courtesy of the Mobius conference, of which I am one of the participants. Thank you guys!
A new Getting Started center (pictured below) provides a way of helping people perform the primary tasks the phone is used for during the first 10 days. Those setup tasks include date and time, personal and work e-mail, security passwords, Bluetooth headsets, backgrounds and ring tones, as well as the ability to transfer music from the PC.
One of the first changes users will notice in Windows Mobile 6.1 is the new home screen user interface, shown on the right. The Sliding Panel plug-in offers quick, at-a-glance information of the clock, notifications (including voice mail, missed calls and text messages), e-mail, appointments, music and, optionally, Windows Live for Windows Mobile.
Nice - but only for Windows Mobile Standard handsets - not for the touch screen devices, a.k.a. Windows Mobile Classic and Windows Mobile Professional.
In addition, once the Start menu button is pressed, people will notice it is now reordered to display the most recently used programs and applications at the top, enabling quicker access. The Most Recently Used Applications view can be turned off from the home screen settings panel.
For people who communicate through SMS, Windows Mobile 6.1 allows people to view a series of short message service threads in one view, cutting down on search time and providing one view of a conversation’s history.
Entries also show that contact details and contact names are hyperlinked, allowing people to respond immediately via text, phone or e-mail.
In Messaging, people will now be able to select multiple e-mail or text messages from the List view and enable various bulk actions: delete, move, mark read or unread, and flag messages. In the Contacts view, people can select or select all to delete multiple contacts at once.
Microsoft also says the over-the-air synchronization process in Windows Mobile 6.1-based devices has been improved further with Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1). The synchronization architecture has been redesigned to reduce bandwidth by up to 60 percent and improve battery life by up to 33 percent, according to Microsoft.
Windows Mobile 6.1 adds a Task Manager to help people better manage their device’s memory and battery life by allowing them to shut down and switch applications and programs. Users are also able to view general performance data regarding device memory and CPU use.
Live Search is an optional in-ROM application for device-makers to include in Windows Mobile 6.1-based devices. Live Search for Windows Mobile helps people search for and find destinations and content. Examples include finding restaurants and movie times, checking traffic, getting directions and finding the cheapest gas prices in a city.
Internet Explorer Mobile now allows zoom in and out, so you can select particular sections of the page. Don't expect the new Internet Explorer Mobile based on the Internet Explorer desktop code to be out until Q3 2008 though.
For Enterprise users there's now the ability to associate the device with a domain, and remotely manage the devices through the new System Center Mobile Device Manager.
And what existing devices will get an updated OS? Here is the list:
• Mobile operators:
– Alltel Wireless: HTC PPC6800, HTC Touch
– AT&T: Samsung BlackJack II, MOTO Q 9h global, Pantech duo, AT&T Tilt by HTC
– Sprint: A new Palm Treo and updates for the Mogul by HTC, Touch by HTC, MOTO Q 9c, Samsung ACE
– T-Mobile International: T-Mobile MDA Ameo 16 GB, T-Mobile MDA compact IV
– ASUS: New phones including the P320, ZX1, P560, M536 and updates for the P527, P750, M930
– HTC: A new Touch Dual for the U.S. and updates for the AT&T Tilt, Touch by HTC, Mogul by HTC from Sprint, TyTN II
– i-mate: 8502, 9502, 8150, 6150
– Intermec: CN3
– Motorola: MOTO Q 9c, MOTO Q 9h global, MC70, MC9000
– Pantech: Pantech duo
– Samsung: BlackJack II
– Toshiba: Portégé G810,Portégé G910
The only outstanding point in the whole project was security certification. Back then I asked Microsoft Australia, Microsoft New Zealand, Microsoft Corp and my Windows Mobile MVP peers for any information on this.
I came out with no answers. I knew there was something for the U.S. DoD, but couldn't find anything for Australia and New Zealand.
It seems this is now solved, at least in Australia, where the Australian Deparment of Defence, Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) has accredited both Windows Mobile and Blackberry solutions.
I still haven't heard of anything similar here in New Zealand.
Since then the Vodafone group has sourced their devices directly from the manufacturers and imprinted their own brand - but not in New Zealand.
But back to i-mate, last year HTC stopped supplying those devices to i-mate, who in turn decided to create their own design and get some other companies to manufacture them.
It didn't work so well it seems.
Back in February 2007 they announced the Ultimate series. And weren't those the ugliest things on this planet? I mean, I wouldn't want to be caught using these devices. And yes I even (briefly) played with one:
In February 2007 they said these devices would be in the market by end 2007. By September 2007 they were saying the devices would be out early 2008. And now Expansys lists some of these devices as "discontinued"
The company is now laying off most of its employees in the US, according to Engadget:
that i-mate's US division in Redmond, Washington has all but disintegrated after a Friday bloodbath that saw the entire engineering, QA, and tech writing departments laid off, among others. Several honchos who weren't cut left anyway, perhaps unwilling to work in a ghost town or as a show of solidarity to their fallen brethren; notably, the Chief Software Officer and VP of Sales and Marketing are both gone, leaving a sales director to be promoted to the lofty title of GM of what seems to be all US operations. Apparently, the Dubai-based firm is in the hurt locker after its inability to get the Ultimate line (also known as "the basket with all of i-mate's eggs in it") fully deployed to retail channels in the time frame it had hoped, and meeting massive resistance from US carriers to carry the devices, it's been left with no option but to leave behind just enough employees to set up and maintain a web-based portal
Meanwhile on a more local note, of all the nice Windows Mobile devices Vodafone New Zealand showed me back in 2007 (which I still can't talk about), only the Palm 500v made it to the market.
UPDATE: removed the links - the other sites were not hyped up really, just reporting on something that happened. But I still think the software is the most boring user interface there is for Windows Mobile...
This is an interesting mobile site - you should bookmark it on your PDA or smartphone and use it while out and about around the major New Zealand cities.
You can search for informaiton such as attractions, restaurants and bars, event venues and accommodation directly from your device and receive results formatted for the small screen.
And while we talk about going out and drinking, perhps you might be interested in another mobile site that was brought to my attention: NZTaxis. In this site you can find contact information for cab companies around the country.