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By Chris De Herrera 
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The Revitalization of the Pocket PC
By Chris De Herrera , Copyright 2009

Revised 3/16/2009

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Windows Mobile Versions

The current definition of Windows Mobile Versions are:

Windows Mobile 6.1 Classic Edition – Windows Mobile touch screen devices that do not include cellular capabilities. Formerly known as the Pocket PC.

Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Edition – Windows Mobile touch screen devices that include cellular capabilities. Formerly known as the Pocket PC.

Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard Edition – Windows Mobile non-touch screen devices that include cellular capabilities. Formerly known as the Smartphone
With the introduction of Windows Mobile 6.5, it is clear that Microsoft is now focused on enhancing the touch screen experience.

Background on the Pocket PC

For background, Microsoft has been supporting the touch screen experience since Windows CE 1.0 devices were shipped in 1996. The first device that was designed to work in your hand without a keyboard with a 320 x 240 touch screen was the Palm-size PC which was introduced in 1998.

In 2000, Microsoft introduced the Pocket PC which was a totally new user interface on top of the older Windows CE operating system. Along with this new interface, the devices were all touch screen and none of them had built-in keyboards. Further Microsoft introduced a new function called Click and Hold which was equivalent to the right click of a mouse.

During the next few releases, Microsoft refined the user interface of the Pocket PC. Further they introduced a new form-factor called the Smartphone which was based on the Pocket PC operating system but it did not have a touch screen but it did have cellular capabilities.

Microsoft Focuses on the Smartphone

Since the introduction of the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, Microsoft focused on improving the Smartphone platform. Meanwhile Microsoft decided to change the user interface of the Pocket PC to conform to the two soft keys that the Smartphone had. Also, they eliminated a clear advantage that the Pocket PC user interface had called the Command Band. The Command Band was a line of menu words and icons that existed on the bottom of the display which communicated more options than the two soft keys that replaced it.

OEMs Respond to the iPhone

With the introduction of the Apple iPhone, OEMs such as HTC have created add-ons to the Pocket PC version of Windows Mobile that supported the user’s ability to use their finger to navigate more easily on Windows Mobile called TouchFlow. Now HTC ships version 3.0 of TouchFlow with their latest Pocket PCs. Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 created a new home screen with touch capabilities as well.

Recently Microsoft has responded with a new version of Windows Mobile called 6.5 which focuses on improving the user’s ability to use their finger within Windows Mobile. This release is expected to be available during 4th quarter, 2009.

I believe that Microsoft creates better systems when there is a competitor that encourages them to enhance their products. It is great to finally see Microsoft focus on improving the touch screen experience.


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