Windows Mobile Weekly Roundup

by Todd Ogasawara

Attending Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco This Week
I'll be in San Francisco attending the O'Reilly/CMP Web 2.0 Expo this week. So, my blog posts may be lighter than usual this week (not daily). If you are at the Expo and see my name (Todd Ogasawara) on a name tag, say hello!

Want a 61 Page Windows Mobile 6 Reference Manual?
If you want to get a soft copy of the new 61 page (PDF) Windows Mobile 6 Reference Manual, head over to Jason Langridge's blog (Microsoft's Mr. Mobile) for a download link. The manual describes 6's features in various categories. The New Features By Audience section starts on PDF page 4 and is categorized by Mobile Operators, OEMs, Business Customers, IT Professional, and Developers. Note Consumers is not a category considered at all. The bad news is that reading the first four columns of features may put you to sleep. The good news (features) tends to be in the Developers column. If developers take advantage like AJAX support, SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition, and the new Sound API, we should see some interesting 3rd party apps in the future. But, out of the box, 6 doesn't look like anything to write home about (and remember, I say this as a person who likes Windows Mobile).

There are a lot of screencaps to illustrate the features as they are described in detail throughout the rest of he document.

Let's hope we see something more interesting in Windows Mobile 7. Maybe, the Apple iPhone and Nokia N95 will inspire Microsoft. Until then, 6 depends on the talent and marketing skills of 3rd party developers to make the platform interesting.

What Happens When You Search for "Windows Mobile 6? on Amazon?
I guess I'm just easily amused. It occurred to me that Windows Mobile 6 is generating zero buzz (or at least so little that I don't see it). The iPhone buzz has died down for the moment (too much lead time between its announcement and summer availability). The phone that seems to be getting a lot of buzz lately is from good ol' Nokia: The Nokia N95. Built-in GPS, 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics (same as used by Sony's digital cameras), nice new mini-browser paradigm, installable applications (unlike the iPhone), and a nice form factor. If the Nokia PC Suite can sync half decently with a Windows or Mac OS X box (I'd lean towards a Mac for syncing), it will get very high on the list of devices to replace my current Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone.

In any case, I decided to search for "Windows Mobile" on Amazon. The first result was my friend Frank McPherson's great book How to Do Everything with Windows Mobile (How to Do Everything) (no doubt due to superb technical editing :-) . But, what happens when you search for "Windows Mobile 6? instead? Did you guess that the first hit would be the BlackBerry 8800 Phone (Cingular)? Yep, if you search for "Windows Mobile 6? on Amazon, it pops up a RIM Blackberry phone as its first hit. WiMo6 just can't get any respect :-)

Another Pocket PC Bites the Dust: Dell Drops the Axim
Brighthand reported that Dell No Longer Offering Any Axim Models today. I hopped over to Dell's website, and, yep, the Axim Pocket PC line is no longer there in the Handhelds, Tablet PCs, and GPS section. In fact, what you do find in the Dell Handhelds section are Palm devices (not the Treo though). Axim accessories are still there though.

The Axim X50 and X51 were great Pocket PCs. My X50v still works fine and gets daily use as a portable news and email device connected to a WiFi network. It will be interesting to see whether this means Dell is getting ready to introduce another Pocket PC based device or is simply dropping the Pocket PC form factor.

Smartphone Calculator Keypad Shortcuts
The Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone calculator looks (and is) awfully weak. However, while it is an "old skool" 4 function calculator, it is reasonably easy to use if you know its keypad shortcuts. The Smartphone's navigation rose provides the four functions as well as the equal function. Press the top of the nav-pad for + (add), press down for - (subtract), left for / (divide), right for X (multiply) and the center for = (equal; complete the calculation).

The bottom-left key on the numeric keypad (labeled * T9) types in a decimal point (.) while the bottom-right key (labeled #) can be used for addition (+).

And, that is pretty much all the Microsoft provided calculator can do on the Smartphone. No square root, no trig functions, nothing. Very 1971 "old skool".