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A Pocket PC Central Product Brief: Windows Mobile 6
   

The latest version of the Windows Mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 6, was officially announced at the 3GSM World Conference in Barcelona, Spain on February 12, 2007. Both PDA and Smartphone versions of WM6 are available.

 

Let's Start With Names...

Like Windows Mobile 5, Windows Mobile 6 comes in three flavors, two for touchscreen devices including stand-alone PDAs and PDAs with built-in phone hardware, and one for non-touchscreen smartphones. However, the new software versions will have a new naming scheme:

Windows Mobile for Pocket PC is now Windows Mobile 6 Classic

Windows Mobile for Pocket PC Phone Edition is now Windows Mobile 6 Professional

Windows Mobile for Smartphone is now Windows Mobile Standard

As you can see, Microsoft has dropped the term "Pocket PC" from the titles of its mobile OS versions. Some reports indicate that Microsoft may wish to move away from the terms "Pocket PC" and "Pocket PC Phone" altogether in favor of terms like "Windows Mobile PDA," "Windows Mobile PDA Phone" and "Windows Mobile Smartphone."

 

Hardware Changes

When Windows Mobile 5 debuted in May 2005, compatibility with a wide range of new hardware was announced, such as support for high capacity mini hard drives and flash memory chips, Persistent Memory Storage, and USB 2.0.  Windows Mobile 6 doesn't sport any entirely new hardware technologies, but does build on previous updates.

One hardware support feature worth noting is WM6's support for new screen resolutions, including widescreen formats like 800x450, or WQVGA, and 320x320, which Palm would love to see on one of its Treo smartphones.  

 

Software Changes

Windows Mobile 6 is not a revolution, but subtly builds on previous versions of the Windows Mobile OS with over 1000 new functionalities, applications and behind-the-scenes processes designed to make your mobile experience a bit smoother. 

Windows Mobile 6 Today Screen: Pro & Classic
Windows Mobile 6 Today Screen: Standard
   
Windows Mobile 6 Today Screen: Pro & Classic
Windows Mobile 6 Today Screen: Standard

 

The new Windows Mobile 6 Today Screen adds Windows Live, which combines online services such as Messenger, Contacts, Windows Live Mail and Search.  There are also new toolbar indication icons and a slightly new Vista-esque theme.

Office Mobile has also received a revamp, with improved viewing and editing capabilities built into Word and Excel Mobile.  There's also new support for HTML e-mail in Outlook Mobile, along with nine new one-click options (Reply to All, Move Message, Delete, etc.).  Getting your e-mail from web-based e-mail services like Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc., has also been streamlined a bit.

Windows Mobile 6 Outlook & Word Mobile

Windows Mobile 6 Outlook & Word Mobile

  

The Contacts portion of Windows Mobile 6 also has a change worth noting: call history. Now call histories for each contact will be stored for quick reference.

Office Mobile is also now available in all Windows Mobile Editions, so Windows Mobile Smartphones will now have Word & Excel editing capabilities right out of the box.  

Other notable changes include:

  • Better support for Windows Vista
  • JAVAScript support and better HTML rendering in Internet Explorer Mobile
  • Internet Sharing (allowing a Windows Mobile 6 device to quickly connect to a Windows PC to act as a wireless modem)
  • Exchange 2007 Server Search
  • Information Rights Management (IRM)
  • Encryption of files written to a flash memory card
  • Windows Mobile Live Update
  • .NET Compact Framework 2 SP2 in ROM
  • Greater integration with Windows Mobile Device Center

The Microsoft Bluetooth Stack - the software suite that controls and manages Bluetooth connections - has also been improved.

 

Windows Mobile Device Center

When Windows Mobile 5 debuted, ActiveSync 4.0 debuted with it, and quickly received poor reviews because of its numerous connectivity issues.  Windows Mobile 6 also works with ActiveSync if you're using an older version of Windows, but WM6 really shines when used with Windows Mobile Device Center, Windows Vista's new Windows Mobile sync utility. 

Windows Mobile Device Center

 

Windows Mobile 6 Availability

The first WM6 devices are now shipping, though their number is still very limited.  Most handhelds debuting after June 2007 will ship with Windows Mobile 6.  We have confirmation of at least four Windows Mobile 6 devices: the T-Mobile Wing (now available), Motorola Q q9h and iPAQ 510 Voice Messenger (WM6 Standard), and the Samsung i760 PDA Phone (WM6 Professional).

Some current Windows Mobile Devices like the T-Mobile Dash have already received Windows Mobile 6 upgrades, with others like the Palm Treo 750 to follow.  HP has announced that it will not update any of its current offerings with Windows Mobile 6 upgrades.  Additional details will be posted as they become available. 

Because Windows Mobile 6 uses the memory management scheme known as Persistent Memory Storage (which was introduced with WM5), WM6 upgrade compatibility is limited by available ROM space on a given device.  Windows Mobile 6 upgrades are also limited by manufacturer support; if your device's manufacturer does not plan to release a WM6 upgrade, the device cannot be upgraded.

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