Windows Mobile changes on the horizon

Every once in a while, I get taken to task for being a bit too harsh on that old enterprise workhorse, Windows Mobile. I crack jokes at WimMo’s expense whenever the opportunity presents itself, so obviously I’m an iPhone fanboy…right? Well, no. First off, I don’t actually own a smartphone–I have yet to encounter a smart device that I feel is really worth the money, service fees and contractual servitude required to bring it home–and yes, that includes the iPhone. Second, I think that Windows Mobile is an extremely powerful mobile OS; without a doubt it’s the most full-featured enterprise mobile OS on the market. What frustrates me, though, is that it’s so cluttered and user-unfriendly that it undermines its own strengths. What’s the point of all those features if you can’t figure out how to use them?

Well, it’s good to know that at least someone out there agrees with me. In a recent piece, Gizmodo lists off “what’s wrong with Windows Mobile” and then follows up by detailing how the company is going to fix the Mobile OS in future software revisions. Surprise, surprise: their top gripes are the UI, the mobile IE browsing experience, the difficulty involved in making a simple phone call and carrier “optimizations” that end up slowing down and crippling devices.

So, how is Microsoft going to fix these problems? Gizmodo spoke with Microsoft product manager Derek Snyder, who admitted that, “up until now, the team has focused too much on the enterprise side, attracting IT customers with vertically useful features like Exchange support, not on ease of use. Starting from here on out, [we’re] going to be more consumer oriented.” On first blush this strategy might seem counterintuitive. Focus on consumers? Why? Because that’s what Apple, Palm, RIM and Symbian have all done to varying degrees, creating mobile platforms that are more consumer friendly while still (in some cases) enterprise worthy. The fact of the matter is that Microsoft is going to face more and more competition from flashy devices in the future (Android, anyone?), so there’s no time like the present to get that WinMo interface up to snuff.

So, what exactly is Microsoft doing? Well, as we’ve already seen, they’re taking a major step with Windows Mobile 6.1, replacing that cluttered home screen with a horizontal scrolling menu. With the next full version, Windows Mobile 7, the company plans to tackle some major issues, retooling all of the standard apps (“According to them, they will try to bring IE up to par with the iPhone’s Safari browser”) and adding better multimedia support. Finally, with Windows Mobile 8, the company will deliver an all new OS, redesigned from the ground-up. WinMo 8 will feature “a completely redesigned user interface,” “‘revolutionary’ features” and a higher level of connectivity between different functions in the OS. We might not see Windows Mobile 7 and 8 anytime soon but at the very least, it’s good to know that Microsoft is moving things in the right direction. Thoughts? I don’t think I need to remind you where that “comments” link is.

For more on the future of Windows Mobile:
– see this Gizmodo article

More stories about Smartphones   iPhone  

Comments

As someone from the carrier side of things I can say, at least from what I see, that “carrier optimisations” are not responsible for the sub-optimal performance of WM devices. Carriers do very little to the “guts” of these devices. Sure they may put the odd client on them and some branding but this will not impact performance in any way.

I wish MS could enhance MS OneNote 2007 to work with PPC WM5/WM6 ink/writing.
So that you could create & edit the ink/writing on both the PPC, Laptop/PC with a Wacom Tablet and also TabletPC.

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