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.NET Compact Framework Pocket Guide

What's New in Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition?

by Wei-Meng Lee, author of .NET Compact Framework Pocket Guide

At the recent Mobile Developer Conference 2004 in San Francisco, Microsoft announced the new Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition (SE), an update to its Windows Mobile platform. The SE is an enhanced version of the Windows Mobile 2003 platform (also commonly known as Pocket PC 2003).

In this article, we'll take a look at the major improvements to the SE, which are:

Figure 1
Figure 1. The HP iPAQ 4355: adding a hardware keyboard lengthens the device.

To summarize, the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition supports the following modes, resolutions, and DPI implementations:

Pocket PC


.NET Compact Framework Pocket Guide

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.NET Compact Framework Pocket Guide
By Wei-Meng Lee

You may not yet be able to get a device that runs the SE, but you can download the:

  • Emulator Images for Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition software for Pocket PC
  • Emulator Images for Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition software for Smartphone
  • The emulator packages ship with 12 new emulator images for Pocket PC and two emulator images for Smartphone. You can invoke these emulators from within Visual Studio .NET 2003 (see Figure 2).

    Figure 2
    Figure 2. Using the emulators within Visual Studio .NET 2003.

    Form Factor and Screen Resolutions

    The different form factors for Pocket PCs and Smartphone are shown below (images for the Phone Editions are not shown, since they are also identical to the Pocket PCs).

    Square Form Factor

    Square Form Factor

    Landscape Form Factor

    Landscape Form Factor

    Portrait Form Factor

    Portrait Form Factor



    Note: Although the emulator images come with emulators in landscape and portrait modes, they are identical. That is, you can still change the orientation of the screen in a landscape mode emulator to portrait mode, and vice versa. But having emulators in different orientation modes will definitely help during application development, especially UI design.

    DPI Settings

    In terms of resolution, existing applications will work without modifications. New devices will work in one of two DPI implementations (not switchable) -- 96 DPI or 192 DPI. Devices that work in 96 DPI implementation (on a VGA screen) will simply use four "dots" to represent one dot (since the increase in resolution over the previous one is a nice multiple of two, both horizontally and vertically, see Figure 3 below). Devices that work in 192 DPI will display four times the amount displayable in the 96 DPI implementation.

    Figure 3
    Figure 3. A 96 DPI implementation on a normal screen versus a 96 DPI implementation on a VGA screen.

    Because of the increase in resolution (while the physical dimension remains the same), it is likely that some users will have problems in reading the smaller text. Hence Microsoft has added a new panel in the screen settings to allow the user to change the size of the text (see Figure 4).

    Figure 4
    Figure 4. Adjusting the size of the text displayed.

    Screen Orientation

    Screen orientation is another important new feature in SE. As shown in Figure 5, you have the choice between a right-handed or left-handed orientation in landscape mode.

    Figure 5
    Figure 5. Choosing the display orientation.

    For right-handed users, the screen is positioned so that the navigational buttons are to the left, and for left-handed users the navigational buttons are to the right (See Figure 6).

    Figure 6
    Figure 6. Setting the landscape mode for right-handed people (shown at left) and left-handed people (shown at right).

    You can also change the orientation of the screen on-the-fly using the orientation button, depending on actual device implementation (see Figure 7).

    Figure 7
    Figure 7. The orientation button on the emulator.


    The Smartphone platform under Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition underwent some cosmetic changes.

    Besides supporting a higher resolution (QVGA: 320 by 240), the Programs menu in the Smartphone 2003 SE also sports some improvements. In the Smartphone 2003 SE, the "More" item is now assigned to the "0" key, instead of the "9" key (see Figure 8).

    Figure 8
    Figure 8. The Smartphone 2003 UI versus Smartphone 2003 Second Edition UI.

    For more on Smartphones, see my article on Microsoft Smartphone Tips and Tricks.


    In this section, you will see some of the features found in the SE.

    Figure 9 shows the Windows Media Player in portrait and landscape modes. Most of the internal applications are orientation-aware, meaning that the location of controls will automatically be repositioned to take advantage of the new screen width.

    Figure 9
    Figure 9. The Windows Media Player in different display orientations.

    Figure 10 shows the Calendar application in portrait and landscape modes. Note that in landscape mode, the dates are displayed much more clearly but less information is displayed overall. Hence, displaying in landscape mode does not necessarily mean seeing more information.

    Figure 10
    Figure 10. Displaying the calendar in different orientations.

    Figure 11 shows an interesting difference in the Start menu when displayed in portrait and landscape modes. In portrait mode, the shortcuts to the currently executing applications (in the figure, Pocket MSN, Notes, and File Explorer) are displayed in an individual section in the Start menu bar. When switched to landscape mode, the shortcuts are displayed as icons at the top of the Start menu bar.

    Figure 11
    Figure 11. The shortcuts in different orientations.

    One improvement to Pocket Internet Explorer is the ability to change the layout of pages from the default to single column. The default layout is shown in Figure 12 (top). It will display the page as it is, without modifications. This is really a pain if the page is not designed for small screens. Now you can change layout to single column, which makes it much easier to read (see Figure 12 (bottom)). This is a much-awaited feature that previously required third-party enhancements.

    Figure 12
    Figure 12. The Pocket Internet Explorer supports the single-column mode of display.


    In this article, you have seen several features of the new Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. Obviously, the next important question you will ask is what are the devices that will support the updated platform? Well, stay tuned, as I will report them as soon as I get my hands on them!

    O'Reilly Media, Inc., recently released (May 2004) .NET Compact Framework Pocket Guide.

    Wei-Meng Lee (Microsoft MVP) is a technologist and founder of Developer Learning Solutions, a technology company specializing in hands-on training on the latest Microsoft technologies.

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    Copyright © 2009 O'Reilly Media, Inc.