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It's a Pocket PC Phone Edition Not a Smartphone
Posted on 24-Oct-2005 23:38 by M Freitas | Tags Filed under: Blog

I can't blame end users on this, when some large gadget sites, manufacturers and mobile operators create the confusion. A couple of times I have received emails from people purchasing software for their "Smartphones" from the Geekzone Software Store just to find out the software won't install on their devices and then asking what to do. The only way out is return the software and purchase the correct version.

Why is that? Until Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition (including) Microsoft have been working in two different platforms based on the same software. There was Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC and there was Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone.

To make things more complicated there was also a set of extension that derives from the Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC, incorporating phone capabilities on PDAs, called Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC for Phone Edition.

All this software is similar internally, but the main differences is security implementations, and user interface.

The big difference in user interface is the existence of a touchscreen (on Pocket PC and Pocket PC Phone Edition), and the keypad and soft keys (on Smartphone).

Until now developers had to create their programs specifically for each platform (Pocket PC or Smartphone) due to these differences.

But some companies, operators and gadget sites write about "Smartphones" when in fact they are talking about Pocket PC. In the Windows Mobile world, the Smartphone is the device that looks like a phone, uses a keypad and provides that user inteface with soft keys. Its primary function is that of a phone, with smarts behind it.

The Pocket PC Phone Edition on the other hand is primarily a PDA, with convergence of wireless communications, including WAN (Wide Area Network) such as GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS or CDMA 1x RTT/EVDO. Sometimes it comes with keyboard (and even a keypad in some rare cases).

So when a site write about the new "HP iPAQ Smartphone" it causes a big problem - people do think of these as a phone, and some users actually buy software for "Windows Mobile Smartphones", when in fact these are Pocket PC.

Oh well. Windows Mobile 5 is here, and the new Operating System is one step ahead to the long-term vision promised by Microsoft: the company seems to expect a common software platform across all devices in the future. There is some way to go first though: current hardware limitations affect the ability to do this, including CPU speed, power management and memory limits.

So, while in the future we may be able to cross-delivery to these platforms, there is no guarantees that current software will run on both Windows Mobile 5.0 types of devices: you still have to select the correct version.

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