Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Window Mobile 5: Where's the Innovation?

Microsoft likes to make a big deal about how it's an innovative company (we all know that 800lb. gorillas are not innovators, but that's another story) ... well, they seem to fool me with every new release of Pocket PC, because I truly do not see anything innovative on this platform. A few months ago, I purchased a Mio Digiwalker 550 for GPS navigation in my car. This comes fully loaded with Pocket PC 2005 (now called Windows Mobile 5). Looking back at my Fujitsu-Siemens Pocket LOOX with Pocket PC 2002 -- I do not see anything innovative aside from a few minor UI tweaks that should have taken a day or two to complete, not 3 years. (unless they have a part-time college student coding the entire Pocket PC platform)

The most clear example of its lack of innovation can be quickly noticed when you fire up IE on this platform. What's the difference between iExplorer on Pocket PC 2002 and 2005? Not much. On 2002, you have a "Fit to Screen" option in the view menu, whereas on Windows Mobile 5 you have the options "One Column," Default (basically destop mode), and Desktop view. Turning "Fit to Screen" off on Pocke 2002 basically makes it go into "Desktop" mode. So, in short, there is *no* noticable "viewing" difference. On the other hand, let's compare it to the Nokia Mini Map Browser on Symbian 3 Series 60 platform. BIG difference. Despite most Symbian phones having a smaller screen than most PDAs (or the same size screen as Microsoft Mobile 'Smart Phone' devices), the usability (and speed) of these Symbian devices is -- to be frank -- years ahead of Microsoft. Try navigating on a PDA with IE and then switch to a Symbian Series 60 3 phone and navigate -- the Symbian phone, despite a smaller processor (generally) and smaller screen, is a much more usable experience.

Microsoft -- I love you guys, but you need to get on the ball dudes. I'm about to drop some serious cash on a new mobile phone, and Microsoft's effort does NOT impress me enough to drop the cash on a Windows Mobile 5 powered device. The only thing that has remotely interested me in Microsoft's offering was its access to Skype, but since fring has support for the Symbian platform, and works like a charm, looks like Nokia is once again going to get my money.

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