Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

Here's the weekly summary of a mix of Windows Mobile and general mobile tech related items from my personal blog.

ActiveSync: Pocket PC vs. Smartphone

Figure 1. ActiveSync Options for Smartphone

Figure 2. ActiveSync Options for Pocket PC

A lot of the confusion I see in email and comments (to blogs and articles) are caused by Mobile Phone carriers and Microsoft failing to properly distinquish between their Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone Edition and Smartphone platforms. The main problem is that several Smartphone devices such as the Motorola Q and the T-Mobile Dash look like the Treo 700w Pocket PC Phone Edition. They have similar looking form factors, LCD display, and QWERTY thumb keyboards. But, they are quite different.

Compare the two ActiveSync options lists displayed above. The one at the top is for a Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone. The one below it is the options list for a Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone Edition. Note that The Smartphone does not provide the option to sync Notes (from Outlook) or Files. We can only guess that Microsoft assumed that the previously keyboard-less Smartphones would not be used as text entry devices for various kinds of note taking options. That is also why the Smartphone does not have Word Mobile or Excel Mobile.

But, several Smartphones do have QWERTY thumb keyboards (though they still lack a touchscreen). And, many people assume that their device is a Pocket PC Phone Edition instead of a Smartphone. So, if you are thinking about buying a Windows Mobile based device, check if it is a Pocket PC Phone Edition or Smartphone and buy the one that fits your needs. If you are voice-centric, a Smartphone is probably the device for you. If you are data-centric, a Pocket PC Phone Edition is probably the one you want to look closely at. The main thing, though, is to be aware of the strengths, features, and limitations of whatever device you choose.

The basic rule of thumb is that a Pocket PC Phone Edition will have many more features and applications than a Smartphone. However, the Smartphone can be easily used with one hand while the Pocket PC Phone Edition will almost always require two hands.

Yahoo! Go 2.0 Beta
Yahoo! announced a beta release of their application for phones.

Yahoo! Go 2.0 Beta

The problem is that it supports a relatively small set of phones from Nokia, RIM, and Samsung. So, if you use a Palm OS, Windows Mobile, or even some other Nokia or Samsung phone, you are out of luck. This is one of the reasons I don't like client-side applications for accessing web portals.

Apple iPhone - Wow!
Apple announced the...

Apple iPhone I usually don't buy into market-speak hyperbole. But, wow, the iPhone sure looks like a winner. The Microsoft Windows Mobile product group has a lot of head scratching and catching up to do now.

Couple of items...

  • The iPhone won't actually be available until June
  • It will only be available from Cingular (which will become AT&T Wireless). This leaves out a large double digit percentage of US mobile phone users who are on Sprint PCS, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless
  • Assuming it only has a single battery, I'm concerned about battery life if I use it as both my phone and audio/video player
  • We don't know what applications will be available. Me? I need Ilium Software's eWallet on whatever mobile device I use.

Virtual Earth Mobile 1.69
I mentioned Virtual Earth Mobile for the Pocket PC a while back. An update to 1.69 became available last week. You can find it at:

Virtual Earth Mobile 1.69

Changes include: Ability to drag the map with a stylus, get directions in text form, bug fix for Add to Contacts option.

Virtual Earth Mobile is a Pocket PC application that uses data from Microsoft's Virtual Earth to display maps on a Windows Mobile Pocket PC. You can read Jason Fuller's complete description of his app in the original blog entry describing it at:

Virtual Earth Mobile (2005.10.23)

I Really Want an Apple iPhone, but...
I've been a user and fan of Microsoft Windows Mobile (aka Windows CE) Handheld PCs, Pocket PCs, and Smartphones since 1996. I've used either a Windows Mobile Pocket PC Phone Edition or a Smartphone as my phone for nearly five years now. However, I really really want an Apple iPhone. Take a look at Apple's Phil Schiller demonstrating it for CBS News if you wonder why.
CBS News: Apple's Phil Schiller demonstrates the iPhone

That said, there is a "But..." in this train of thought. There are a couple of big issues for me and, I suspect, for others too.

First, the Apple iPhone will be available exclusively through Cingular in the US (soon to be merged into the AT&T Wireless brand). They are the largest mobile phone carrier in the US. But, they aren't my carrier. And, neither Cingular nor AT&T Wireless have had great acclaim from their customers in the recent past. Take a look at RCRWireless' discussion of Consumer Reports' survey of 18,000 mobile phone customers. The title of the article is: Consumer Reports' subscribers give Cingular, Sprint Nextel coal for the holidays.

Second, there is an issue about the dreaded MRC (Monthly Recurring Cost). The way it looks to me is that I would want their lowest cost voice plan with their unlimted data plan. I'm guessing this will be $40 + $40 = $80. My current plan is $30 for voice and $30 for unlimited data (also EDGE) plus unlimited WiFi at Starbucks, Borders Books, and Kinko/FedEx locations. That's $60/month. That means that annual service cost would jump from $720/year to $960/year. Over the course of a two-year contract, this comes out to $1,440 vs. $1,920.

Third, Apple has verified that they will not allow 3rd party applications to be installed. Since they use the Safari browser, I guess you could argue that you can use web apps (maybe even AJAX-ified web apps). But, there are still plenty of times I know I will be out of EDGE or WiFi signal range and be app-less. Of course, the built-in apps look nice. I don't install many apps on my Pocket PC or Smartphone. But, the ones I do have installed have become invaluable to me. I would need them or something like them on my iPhone.

My guess at the moment is that I'm going to have to pass on the Apple iPhone for 2007. I hope one of the other carriers picks up the iPhone in 2008/2009 and has a reasonable voice+data plan for me to consider.

Microsoft Research Outlook Mobile Manager 2.1
Microsoft Research released...

Microsoft Outlook Mobile Manager 2.1

...this past October. The software is installed on the PC, not the mobile device. Here's what it does for your mobile device though: Microsoft Outlook Mobile Manager (OMM) brings the power of Microsoft Outlook to your portable device. OMM can prioritize your messages and makes smart decisions about when to send email. OMM also sends calendar reminders, task reminders, and an Outlook Today style daily summary all to your wireless device.

Interestingly, it only works for Outlook email accounts that are either POP3 or Exchange Server based. It does not support IMAP4 email accounts. In fact, the POP3 support was only just introduced with this particular update.

Q&A: How to Configure Email for an IMAP4 Server
From the beginning of Windows CE/Windows Mobile-time, it seems like people have had problems configuring Messaging (formerly known as Inbox) for their POP3 or IMAP4 and SMTP email servers. Reader D.B. recently wrote me email asking about this issue.

D.B. writes: I recently got the Cingular Treo 750- my fiorst experience with Windows mobile. I read you peice below and wondered how I can go about configruing my email as you have apparently done the the very last scenario (IMOAP4)...any advice greatly appreciated!

The response is way too long for a blog entry. So, I created a special How-To page for D.B. and anyone else wanting to configure Windows Mobile 5 Messaging with an IMAP4 server. Click on the link below to read what I hope is a simple 10-step process with lots of screen shots to step you through the configuration process.

Configuring IMAP4 Email for Windows Mobile 5