Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Is Windows Mobile in Danger of Becoming Software Plumbing?
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Pocket PC Talk" @ 09:33 AM
Jump over to Engadget and watch the video they've posted of the newly-announced HTC Hero, an Android-based smartphone. Look at what HTC has done in terms of porting a version of TouchFlo from Windows Mobile over to Android - but also pay attention to the apps they've added and improved. Now picture those changes and improvements flowing back to future Windows Mobile devices. Between all of the customs apps that HTC has slowly but surely built up (photo viewer, music player, skinned browser, weather app, etc.) and the UI of TouchFlo, Windows Mobile is becoming nothing more than plumbing....which should terrify Microsoft. If the OS is just plumbing, then HTC could switch to whatever OS the wish on a given device. HTC is Microsoft's biggest smartphone partner - so what does it mean to Microsoft when their biggest partner is working to undermine the user interface of their operating system?
I can't say that I blame HTC for going down this road - Microsoft kept the user interface of Windows Mobile stuck in a Han Solo carbonite freeze for several years, completely missing the fact that no one ever liked using a stylus. Windows Mobile 6.5 brings a bunch of touch-based improvements to the table, but it doesn't seem like we'll see a real UI overhaul until Windows Mobile 7, which isn't arriving until 2010 if the rumours are to believed. Equally bad was the way that Microsoft left many of their applications out to rot in the sun. Windows Media Player Mobile, Pictures & Videos, Internet Explorer Mobile - none of these applications received noteworthy improvements in years. It's only recently that we're seeing an improvement in Internet Explorer Mobile, and becoming the much-maligned (from a Web developer's point of view) IE6. Microsoft's failure to put any real effort into their applications outside of PIM improvements - and I think Windows Mobile has the best PIM apps out there today - added to the overall atrophy of Windows Mobile. So for HTC to forge ahead and create finger-friendly applications isn't surprising.
So looking at what HTC is doing with creating a unified experience, what do you think this will mean for Windows Mobile? Will you even know you're using a Windows Mobile phone by the end of 2009 if HTC has their way? Better yet, will you care?
Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He's still searching for the ultimate netbook.
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