Solid state disks. These should dramatically improve battery life in mobile devices - and in the UMPC's in particular.
I suspect we'll see these in the second generation devices - which should start appearing in the Windows Vista timeframe. Availability now + six(ish) months for integration and testing = firmly a H2 feature.
I guess I should clarify what I mean by high end Pocket PC. I agree that the Pocket PC will be around for some time to come. I think though that devices such as the HP iPAQ 4700, Dell Axim X51V and similar devices will be displaced largely by the UMPC - particularly as the form factor and capabilities of the UMPC evolve.
Depending on who's definition of a PDA you subscribe to (I prefer Gartners) - the market share of non phone PDAs is shrinking right now. Indeed the non cellular Pocket PC's are being slowly replaced with Pocket PC Phone edition devices or smartphones. So to consider that whats left of this maket could be soaked up by the UMPC is not an altogether far cry.
There are two key draw cards for buyers of large form factor Pocket PC's - the larger screen size in the portable form factor - both of which the UMPC delivers.
Having said that, there are two primary reservations around this that anyone might legitimately have.
The first is the size - those who have a larger form factor device probably dont want it to get bigger, so in this sense a UMPC might not be really attractive. I think the size limitation will be offset by the presence of qwerty keyboards on Pocket PC's and Smartphones, which will enable easier data entry on those devices, while allowing them to get smaller (again not everyone likes tiny keyboards) - so I think that smaller devices should solve this in part. In addition the size of UMPC devices should be offset by the additional functionality and improved data entry options - which should solve the other part of this reservation.
The second reervation around the UMPC is that it will have no where near the battery life of a Pocket PC. However, there are hardware changes coming later this year that will help this problem considerably (although I dont think they are public yet). So while this will be an issue for the first generation devices, I doubt it will be for future generations.
Sure it wont happen right now, or even this year, but by the end of next year I think larger form factor Pocket PCs will be extremely rare - and part of that will be because of UMPC's.
We'll have to wait and see if I'm right.
The UMPC will probably mean that the larger form factor Pocket PC's will dissapear over time. This of course makes perfect sense, given that the larger Pocket PC's fill a niche that would be better served with a UMPC - i.e. something that has a form factor big enough to use comfortably, but powerful enough to do most tasks with. Unfortunately high end Pocket PC's have largely failed in the latter regard - as they just dont have the power to easily handle applications that you'd want in the larger form factor. Not to mention that most of these devices dont have phone functionality, so they are not even connected all the time.
I think it will be interesting to see how UMPC devices with 3G capabilities affect the market too. I dont see these things taking on phone capabilities (except VOIP), but 3G data capabilities holds some VERY interesting possibilities - and its here that I see the biggest changes coming - think bluetooth, IM/VOIP and 3G in the one fairly small bundle with an onscreen touch keyboard...
Just need to get the battery industry to catch up - this will be their biggest weakness... especially in first generation devices.
The short story is I am going to get one of these. I've got a trip to the US in July, so if I cant get one beforehand, I'll get one then. I've been thinking about getting a Tablet PC for home for ages, and this would fit the bll perfectly and should be cheaper.
One thing I've noticed in the platform is that there is lots of talk about communications, mostly via instant messaging and VOIP. If this is really connected as much as the vision determines it will be, then as these devices are widely adopted, communications may actually change considerably.
Today we communicate largely via phone for 1:1 discussion, increasingly we are using instant messaging, and increasingly instant messaging clients have VOIP clients built in, so a device like this that can accompany us anywhere and stay connected means that we will have more access to each other using IM and VOIP and even video calls. So this could change the way we communicate, which will again mean that mobile operators will need to change to stay in business.
Of course this will take time...
I think this would be great for running many of the apps that I have on my home PC that I'd like to take with me. I'm looking forward to seeing them on the market.
The Ultra-Mobile PC is a new kind of computer. It combines the power of Windows XP with mobile-ready technologies that make it easy to access and use your software on the go. With small, lightweight, carry-everywhere hardware designs, you can connect and communicate, accomplish any task anywhere and at any time, and be entertained and informed wherever life takes you.
We tested it today on a collegues K-Jam and it worked there too - pre AKU2.
Therefore - this will be the first in a series of posts on Windows Mobile .Net Compact Framework development. The idea is to take you on a trip (if it should amount to such) through from day 0 to development of a basic application for the Pocket PC or Smartphone - I haven't decided which yet and the reason will be disclosed in a later post. Along the way there will be other little bits and peices of mobile related thoughts to add variety.
So this entry is really just a pointer - what do you need to get started developing applications for Windows Mobile?
The list is (fortunately) quite small...you really need to get Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition and thats it.
Visual Studio Standard is the lowest of the non free versions of Visual Studio (compare Visual Studio Editions). It includes the project templates to get you started, it also includes SQL Mobile and most importantly Windows Mobile emulators. You should be able to buy Visual Studio 2005 Standard from most software retailers. You can order a trial from here. For New Zealanders, you should watch my work blog, as I'm in the process of setting up a page so you can get a trial of Visual Studio 2005 delivered for free.
Here's a question you see occaisionally... "Why are the tools for Windows Mobile Development not free?". Good question... they used to be. Before VS2005 we had Embedded Visual Basic and Embedded C++ which were freely available. However, when VS2005 was relesed support for these tools was dropped and the Embedded VB Runtime is no longer supported. After Tech Ed 2005 a few of us had dinner with John Case who is a director in the Microsoft Devoper Tools division. I asked him this question, and he told me that they lobbied hard to make them free, but were not allowed to. This might change in the next version of Visual Studio... but we'll have to wait and see.
Having installed Visual Studio 2005 you will need ActiveSync 4.1 (download here). If you have a Windows Mobile Device, you should already have ActiveSync installed, but make sure you have the latest version installed (which is 4.1 at time of writing). Visual Studio 2005 requires version 4.1 or later for mobile development.
The only other thing you will need is required if you are wanting to develop specifically for Windows Mobile 5 - that is the Windows Mobile 5 SDK for the platform you want to develop for (download Pocket PC SDK, download Smartphone). The SDK includes the Visual Studio project templates and emulators for the specific platform.
Next - What Windows Mobile devices should I develop for?