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Talking Point: What keeps you stuck on Windows Mobile, and what tempts you away?

Guest PaulOBrien

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What very nearly kept me was the much fuller Exchange sync of WM - including Tasks, sending invites from your calendar on the move, and a private tickbox for calendar entries which the iPhone sadly lacks.

What attracted me away to the iPhone is that it works, simply and effectively, and really delivers on the promise that WM has been chasing all these years. It's highly functional, can be very productive as a work tool, is fantastic for browsing, multimedia and games, and is an unrivalled pleasure to use as a phone - and it does it all without tweaking, flashing, or any of those niggling flaws that constantly dog the WM interface.

I'd love the iPhone to do more, and to match WM for point by point features, but I could never go back to WM and put up with all the other compromises that entails. Happilly, as meatier apps continue to hit the appstore, the negatives are fading away anyway - in the last week I added MMS and Exchange Tasks to my iPhone for example, all without jailbreaking.

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Guest picky-picasso
But you can add even more if you jailbrr=eak - so why not do it?

I LOVE iPhone, but returned mine because i needed:

  1. Complete Outlook Sync - categories, tasks, 2500 contacts, full calendar. I can flash ROM and be back fully funtional in less than 15 minutes.
  2. Immediate sync - if I'm connected and make a change on either device, so I can save a task on the device and add more text via laptop
  3. edit/create apps - Word & Excel are too important.
  4. Love HTC type Album player for instantly cutting piece of an MP3 for a ringtone.
  5. iPhone is easy for everyone, even hot girls. I admit, i don't mind having a phone that the women who surround me cannot use. (also see #5 below)
  6. T9
  7. Search. Doesn't work perfectly, but theoretically, I can search my whole device for something.
  8. SD/MicroSD card. I must be able to put things in and take things out. The ability to interact directly with the Storage and SD Storage on the device were musts for me. I can use normal windows briefcase sync to keep files up-to-date on my phone, for example.
  9. Similarly, I can move audio or video files directly on to the storage or plug in a buddy's microSD card and listen immediately to the files - no need for special foldering (iphone), location or conversion.
  10. Flash. (yes BB has flash, but I was deciding over the iPhone)
  11. 5 Meg camera. Not a Sony Cybershot, but that 5Meg is a critical resolution mark for me - I can photograph documents and zoom to read them. (this is an iPhone/BlackBerry comparison. There are Nokia's now with 5Megs)
  12. TextReader. PalmPilot couldn't have one, ostensibly due to processor limitations
  13. Copy and Paste. Obviously. i.e. If you text me an address to my iPhone, I can't save it as a contact and look it up on Google Maps?
What lures me away
  1. iPhone screen/touch sensitivity is hotter than Angelina Jolie.
  2. Love iPhone call screen - full screen of contact photo in background. Why can I not find that ANYWHERE????? No WM version of that. It's my FAVORITE thing about iphone: when I get/make a call, the photo I have for that contact fills the screen. SWEET.
  3. Palm - DataViz Smart List ToGo or IBM's TouchDB are SUCH good database programs. As usual with WinMo, while Data on the Run or Cecilia whatever are reasonable implementations of Data sync and Query, the UI Sucks. SmartListToGO has a sweet UI, and allows me to DESIGN screens and data input fields. It's HOT.
  4. Miss (OH MY GOODNESS, DO I!!) the Palm Treo's version of SMS: if I send a message while I do not have access to the network, instead of telling me that it couldn't send the message, it just holds the message (in the Outbox) and shows it in grey until it gets a signal, when it sends. I live in NY and this means that I can send a message on the subway and if we pass any little bit of signal (eg at Penn Station, your phone will often get signal as the train leaves the station) the message will send and others will be received. WHY can I not find ANY version of this for other WinMo?? What is the SMS "Outbox" for, anyway??
  5. iPhone is easy for everyone, even rock stars and hot girls. (also see #5 above)
  6. Omnia not 3G yet. Grrrrrr..... "OMNIA" should mean I can use it ALL over the world... on 3G! sigh.
  7. Private mode for SMS. I do not like SMS popping up on my screen, because even my hot girlfriends can read. lol
  8. Crashy crashy WinMo. As others have mentioned, the iPhone does what it does perfectly, despite anything it doesn't do. It is intuitive and works. Palm OS Treo is also intuitive and works.
  9. iPhone is gorgeous. TouchHD is also gorgeous, though, but I don't have one of those.
  10. Blackberry Storm with the physically responsive touchscreen. W-O-W!! Much better than haptic (slapstick? Spastic?) feedback.
  11. MultiTouch
  12. Blackberry Touchball (but not on the gorgeous Storm!)
  13. iPhone, despite hobbled GPS automatically uses GPS for pictures if info is available. W/Omnia, I've got to set it and restart the camera.
  14. Despite 3Megs, native iPhone pics are more beautiful than Omnia pics.
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But you can add even more if you jailbrr=eak - so why not do it?

I just don't feel the need - I'm happy knowing my phone is stock, it works exactly as the manufacturer intended (and any malfunction can be legimately laid at the door of Apple/O2 rather than a "verboten" app), and through the appstore and legitimate updates I really am getting all the extra functionality I need/want. It's not like WM where I felt the constant need to tweak and try new roms, just to try and get a device I actually liked.

I don't want to multitask anything other than the core phone functions (I actually agree with the way Apple have designed their OS), and I'm not interested in endless theming and "customisation" for the sake of it, so not sure jailbreaking has anything to offer me (apart from a little extra hassle every time iTunes or the iPhone OS updates).

Edited by Boinng
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Guest Dark Horse

What I Likes About WinMob :)

  1. WinMob for Smartphone
    I love the smartphone version of WinMob, it's a joy to use and the crowning jewel of the versions available. Far better than any other smartphone platform and I've pretty much used them all.

  2. Stability
    Reading all the comments on here, I'm frankly quite amazed at the problems people are having. Are you like all using a different OS or something? I'm running WM5 for smartphones on a Samsung i600 and rarely, if ever, have to reboot and even then, it's nearly always down to a software installation or customisation tweak. My WinMob simply does not crash at all and I like being able to fire it up and not worry about whether it works.

  3. Speed
    Getting things done on a WinMob smartphone device is quick and easy. As before, I'm genuinely surprised that other users think it's too slow, I use the handset extensively and often have several memory hungry apps open at once. When I press a button or do something, it happens straightaway and with the exception of loading software, rarely encounter a stuck screen or spinning progress icon. Even with the memory full, WinMob 5 for Smartphones seems more aggressive than previous versions and automatically shuts down other apps to free up resources where required instead of leaving them hanging around. In contrast, Symbian S60 devices I've used often crash or jam and I reckon this is down to Nokia's habit of releasing buggy firmware.

  4. Usability
    WinMob is full of clever little touches such as the T9 predictive contact list that someone else mentioned earlier. I also like the dropdown list of words when typing an SMS and the File Explorer that lets you poke around your memory cards to launch apps or copy files. Overall, WinMob for Smartphones is supremely easy to use, everything works as it should and because the OS is based upon the standard Windows start button, anyone can pick up the handset and be productive providing it's not a PPC (see 1 below). Then there's the contact list that supports several fields such as home address, business address, notes etc. This was offered long before Nokia et al had proper, full and complete phonebook support. Yes, we all know that Series 40 and the iPhone are proper lessons in usability but for what the smartphone version of WinMob offers, I think it's great and very efficient.

  5. Games
    WinMob has the best games period. There's precious little on a weedy Symbian handset that comes even close to the equivalent title on WinMob. Titles may be far fewer but quality is what counts and you can pick up just about any title now. I was playing a Java car game on a Moto Razr just last week that was laughably bad. Plus the novelty soon wears off with all those motion sensor games on the iPhone and you look a fool playing it on the train anyway. Even from the days of the E200, WinMob was always head and shoulders above the competition when it came to quality games on a handset and lets not also forget the wonderful emulators you can install to play SNES and MegaDrive titles.

  6. Scalability
    I like the fact that software can be installed as required to make your device the way you want it. There are no restrictions and you can choose what you want to install, whenever you want to install it from a wide selection of apps catering for just about anything. Currently, I have Google Maps, CorePlayer and Opera installed along with a bunch of games including Pocket MiniGolf, Virtual Pool and Bejeweled. Plus, the WinMob platform is open in a way that the iPhone isn't. With a rich set of development tools and API's to expose the underlying framework, it's not too difficult to write an app to install on any WinMob device.

  7. Media capabilities
    Why all the fuss about the iPod? WinMob has always had good media support and I use mine as an MP3 player and to watch Simpsons episodes. For some reason, I've always found the sound in particular to be very good on WinMob devices although I'm guessing that's more down to the hardware. People get hung up over camera resolution too, calm down folks, it's not a big deal. The average punter does not require 5MP cameras on a handset and whilst WinMob has lagged behind the competition, it's more than capable of taking decent pics. Absolutely no need to carry a media player, digital camera and moby when one WinMob device will do it all perfectly well and also provide ample expansion through memory cards.

  8. Flashing
    Whatever device I have, I need to know that I can do with it as I wish. That means installing new firmware and getting rid of branding. Not all handsets let you do this (try flashing a Sony Ericsson) and the WinMob user community is decidely good in providing firmware upgrades. Hats off to the XDA boys who really know how to cook a ROM!

  9. Customisation
    The first thing I do when I get a new WinMob device is tailor it the way I like it. New homescreens, profiles, ring tone, icons, colours, the whole shebang. Many handsets let you do this now but again, WinMob has always had this degree of customisation from way back when the other handsets were still messing about with tinny ring tones. And unlike many other handsets, you can do all the development and testing on a PC and then copy it across to a WinMob handset when your masterpiece is complete.

  10. Pocket MSN
    This came with WinMob 5 before M$ dumped it for Live but I still prefer this older version. Comprising Messenger and Hotmail, it's lightweight, unassuming, quiet and does what it says on the tin. I especially like the way Pocket Hotmail works, I actually prefer it far more to the dreadfully buggy website.
What I Hates About WinMob :)
  1. WinMob PPC
    Worst. OS. Ever. It's crap. It's slow. It's clunky. It's counter intuitive. I hate PPC with a vengeance. The devices are embarassingly fat. Basic tasks require far too many clicks. It's like M$ deliberately set out to make the most user-unfriendly and stupidest OS it could and then had a board meeting to decide how to make it even worse. Sold as a PPC without telephony back in the days of the iPaq, even then it was only just ok. Sticking telephony on it was a mistake, one from which it's never recovered. I've tried all the HTC PPC devices, carried an Omnia for a month, willed myself to own an i-Mate for at least a week and sat patiently through all the different iterations of the Treo. There aren't any, not one *single* PPC device, I've not wanted to throw at the wall after 5 mins of use. Stylus? Airy fairy touchscreen? Pah! Real Men use their fingers and this enthusiast gives PPC the middle finger everytime. Smartphone RuL3z!!

  2. Versioning
    Far too confusing to have all these different flavours of WinMob. How many times have you downloaded a piece of software advertised for Windows Mobile only to be told during installation that it's been made for a different version and not compatible with your device? Windows Mobile is now such a generic term that it can mean any number of different WinMob versions. Consign PPC to the dustbin and focus on WinMob for Smartphones!

  3. WinMob 6/7 and every other future version of WinMob
    A wide ranging and extremist statement but think about it. The M$ solution to most upgrades is to throw more hardware at it until it works, not make it quicker, simpler or easier to use. And with the market's current obsession with touchscreen devices and M$' determination to go down the PPC route, ergo, it's inevitable that future versions of WinMob will be slower, more demanding and less attractive. For me, WinMob 5 for Smartphones is the pinnacle of the series and does everything I need it to do, perfectly, quickly and without fuss. Absolutely zero need to upgrade the OS if it works well and I reckon M$ has had the basics covered since WinMob 2003. Additional functionality can always be added via customisation, after all, isn't that what WinMob devices are all about? I won't be upgrading my Samsung until it breaks after which, the device itself would tempt me, not the OS (see below).

  4. ActiveStink
    Worst. Software. Ever. It sits there in the background like some vast slug, greedily eyeing up all your PC resources. And then when it's time to crawl into action, basic functionality such as backing up SMS or a mass USB device mode are missing. Hand's up everyone here who uses AS to copy MP3's or music files instead of just whipping out the memory card and going through USB 2? And whose bright idea was it to remove wifi syncing in version 4? Cut the crap, there is no security or virus threat on WinMob. Each version of AS has gotten progressively worse and more bloated with the result that whilst contacts synching works well, other similar software is quicker, more lightweight, elegant and functionally rich. The Jeyo range of apps in particular are far better than AS.

  5. Lack of language support
    Installing a new language that doesn't already exist on a WinMob device should be as easy as downloading a cab file and installing. Sadly, as anyone who's required Arabic or other ligature based language will testify, it's nigh on impossible with the final insult being the cost to install what should be basic functionality via a third party app. M$ deserve a good slapping for omitting proper language support.

  6. Browsers
    There's a severe lack of decent browsers on WinMob. With several years headstart, you'd have thought M$ would nail PIE and then along comes the iPhone and wipes the floor with everyone. Even the standard Series 60 Nokia browser is far better than anything on WinMob. Opera Mini is good but I shouldn't have to install a Java client for such a fundamental part of the OS. No real alternatives other than Opera Mobile as the rest are either in beta or no better than PIE. If there was just one feature that would tempt me away from WinMob (and there isn't), it'd be the iPhone browser.
What Would Tempt Me Away From WinMob For Smartphones :D

Talking about the Smartphone version only as I require no temptation to ditch PPC, quite simply, it'd be the handset. I choose the device first and foremost and then worry about the OS it's running. Why? Because the device is what I carry around with me, it's what I interact with and what provides the usability far more than the OS.

Take the SPV C500 for example. One of the finest WinMob handsets ever made yet the same OS on the SPV C550 was rubbish largely because of the tiny spongy keys that required touchpicks and the patience of a saint to use effectively. Hardware based full QWERTY keypads are a must.

With the current touchscreen obsession (why for f*** sake???), proper QWERTY devices are few and far between and come upgrade time, if there were no WinMob for Smartphone devices available with a QWERTY keypad, I'd jump ship to whatever device had one regardless of the OS. Everyone raves over the iPhone's usability but until it has a proper hardware QWERTY keypad, I'm not interested.

Bottom line, if I wanted something to stroke, touch and caress, I'd call an escort agency and hire a hooker ;)


Dark Horse

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I think you make many valid points and I totally respect your preference for the Smartphone form factor, which the iPhone for one will never replace, but I have to take issue with this -


WinMob has the best games period.

Games on WinMob are okay, sometimes a bit dated, and often hampered by slow hardware (and being coded for the lowest common denominator in hardware terms).

Games on the iPhone are slightly limited by the lack of buttons, and have to use on screen controls and/or the g-sensor, but they are still MINDBLOWING compared to anything I've seen on WinMob, or any other mobile platform for that matter. Graphically astonishing, full of depth and clever gameplay, and bang up to date (with regular free updates conveniently delivered through the appstore too). I rarely played mobile games till I got my iPhone, now there are several titles on the phone I can't put down, and they're all many leagues ahead of anything WinMob is capable of.

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Guest Dark Horse
I think you make many valid points and I totally respect your preference for the Smartphone form factor, which the iPhone for one will never replace, but I have to take issue with this -

Games on WinMob are okay, sometimes a bit dated, and often hampered by slow hardware (and being coded for the lowest common denominator in hardware terms).

Games on the iPhone are slightly limited by the lack of buttons, and have to use on screen controls and/or the g-sensor, but they are still MINDBLOWING compared to anything I've seen on WinMob, or any other mobile platform for that matter. Graphically astonishing, full of depth and clever gameplay, and bang up to date (with regular free updates conveniently delivered through the appstore too). I rarely played mobile games till I got my iPhone, now there are several titles on the phone I can't put down, and they're all many leagues ahead of anything WinMob is capable of.

That's ok, healthy debate is good :)

Might be down to the type of games people prefer and also the hardware itself rather than the OS. For example, I'm a huge fan of the Nintendo hardware but just can't get on with the motion sensor gameplay on the Wii. Similarly, whilst the iPhone games do indeed look and sound amazing as you quite rightly pointed out, what's the point if it's hampered by the controls or lack of? This could also be levelled at the PPC crowd too but the Smartphone has no touchscreen and doesn't suffer as a result.

I believe gameplay counts in spades far more than how it looks or blows your mind. For that, WinMob was for a long time (and I reckon to a large degree still is) better than the alternatives available. I have puzzle games (Bejeweled), sports games (Pocket Mini Golf), arcade games (SkyForce), strategy (Westward), even business sims (Lemonade Tycoon) and 3D (Virtual Pool) titles on WinMob for Smartphone that are superb. I've yet to see any equivalent titles on iPhone or any other platform that offered considerably better gameplay that would compel me to swap.

My point is that the WinMob platform, Smartphone or PPC, offers the complete gaming experience with motion sensor titles sitting alongside those games that can only really be done justice with a proper keypad. Everyone has their favourites and I'd be *genuinely* interested to hear of titles, iPhone or otherwise, that people think are significantly better than their WinMob equivalents.


Dark Horse

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If you're really wedded to physical buttons then yes, obviously the iPhone has limits with some of the more conventional games, but I'd encourage anyone to have an open mind on it. The hardware is very strong in all other respects, and there's a lot that can be done control wise with a capacitive screen and a g-sensor (a lot more than with a traditional PPC style resistive touchscreen, certainly).

Here's a run down on a few of the games I play on my iPhone:

X-Plane - this is a very fully featured flight sim that easily rivals some desktop titles. Graphically rich and detailed, realistic flight model, huge (and expanding) flight area, a good selection of planes, weather, etc. I also have the separate X-Plane Airliner which allows you to fly 747's and the like over even larger distances. The controls are perfectly fluid and natural, the phone itself becomes your "stick", with an onscreen throttle, flaps etc. The original X-Plane cost me £6 (the most I've ever paid for any app), the Airliner edition was less, both have since had major upgrades (delivered free through the appstore) to improve flight models, add more planes, flight areas etc.

Flick Fishing - the most "fun" of various fishing simulators for the iPhone (there are some more serious, realistic versions - this is more of an arcade game) - cast out with a flick of the phone, reel in with an onscreen reel (lots of finger spinning fun, impossible to do on any other screen), a variety of fishing spots and fish which are more of a struggle than others, great graphics, really a lot of fun for a grand total of £0.59p.

Tetris - not a cheap clone but the real thing, fully licensed, simple on screen gesture controls, everything proper Tetris should be, £3.49.

Cro-Mag - fast, 3D racing game with cavemen characters in Flintstones-like prehistoric racing buggys (with weapons), lots of fun, rich graphics, for controls the phone simply becomes the steering wheel with an on-screen gas pedal etc, £1.19.

iChess - as the name suggests, a pretty standard chess game, nice enough graphics but no frills, 99p

SolFree - Solitaire, five varieties (Baker's Game, Demon, Spiderette, and the "classic" Klondike deal 1 or deal 3), all beautifully rendered with artful graphics and drag and drop controls, and absolutely free.

Darts - traditional british darts, aim and throw with your finger, authentic looking dartboard etc, practice mode or play X01 or Cricket against the phone, another completely free app.

Touch Physics - the sort of game that could only be done on the iPhone, relaxing and intriguing puzzle game where you have to draw and manipulate shapes on the screen to move objects around and solve problems, seemingly endless levels and recently expanded with a free update, another 59p marvel.

There are plenty of other great looking games waiting in the appstore - I've just checked through your list and Bejeweled 2 is £1.79, Pocket Mini Golf 2 is the same price, no Skyforce but plenty of similar arcade shoot-em-ups available at pocket money prices, no Lemonade Tycoon but the similar Lemonade Stand or Lemonade 2 available for £1-2, as is Virtual Pool (which also has a free "lite" version).

One of the best things about iPhone games (and iPhone apps generally) is the appstore connection, game developers are really listening to their users and delivering lots of free updates and improvements, which are downloaded and installed semi-automatically through the store. Also, the economies of scale within the market (with each app pushed to millions of "locked in" users) means low prices, which in no way reflect the high quality of the software.

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  • 1 year later...
Guest nicksoph

Hi Paul,

less than a year on from this first post - which didnt even hint at Android as an option - Android has become a major player and MS has a new operating system which might be considered to have nothing in common with Windows mobile as it was.

How would you now answer your original question? or maybe the Question: What tempted you away?

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Guest Confucious

The OP was nearly two years ago not one.

I've moved on from my iPhone 3G to an iPhone 4 which I believe is the best phone available for me and I believe Paul has moved on to Android but I guess he'll answer himself.

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