Last September, Microsoft formalized the release of Windows Mobile 6.5. So real revolution or minor changes? At a time when competition prepares its defenses, the brand fans waited for the Redmond giant at the turn. Let’s end the suspense immediately: the long awaited revolution will not occur. According to Microsoft, it was not until Windows Mobile 7 to wait for real news. We can confirm this with regret: the quantum leap will not occur.
The community of Windows users Phones eagerly awaited the release of Windows Mobile 7. From Microsoft’s own admission, this new mobile system would allow us to take a break "quantum" in the world of mobility, nothing less … It is true that since the release of OS for next generation mobile (iPhone OS, Android), the variations of the Dean Windows CE (WM 5, 6 or 6.1) reflect the weight of their years. Let us not mince words: Windows Mobile has aged so badly that some major manufacturers have felt obliged him to undergo a course of Botox by adding a touch overlay developed internally (as with HTC TouchFLO 3D). Finally, instead of a clean slate and we offer real innovation, Microsoft makes us the scope of the following heated by introducing Windows Mobile 6.5 on the market.
The new interface
A new start menu –
A fresh wind is blowing come the start menu of Windows Mobile. It must be said that he had not moved since the release of Pocket PC (which still goes back to 2000, almost ten years …). Specifically, the cells that separate launch icons have been unsuccessful. However, the provision had been made with beta versions has been preserved (see photo below).
In addition to aesthetics, the behavior of this menu has been thoroughly reviewed. This time, the lift side disappears: it is finally possible to scroll the menu up and down by dragging his finger on any part of the screen. Incidentally, this time the movement is quite smooth, which was hardly the case with Windows Mobile 6.1. When the menu arrives at an end to the upper or lower screen, Microsoft has added an effective "magnetic" strictly identical to that of icons to launch the iPhone. Why innovate when competition takes care of it?
Regarding the organization of the icons, it is regrettable that Microsoft did not continue to build on the iPhone … Most of the time, launch shortcuts can only be moved up! To do this, he must leave his finger on one of them, and wait until a button appears (see photo below right). Clearly, it is possible to customize all end without tearing their hair.
A revised home screen –
The home screen by default Windows Mobile has changed dramatically and now offers quick access to various key topics. Widgets This system allows instant access to notifications of received messages (SMS, email, MMS), weather forecasts, events calendar, photo manager, video, etc.. However, it is not a real novelty. Indeed, this principle will recall memories of the (ex?) Owners Smartphones Windows Mobile non-touch. These devices already incorporated a similar system known as the sweet name "carousel" in which the principle is exactly the same. Ultimately, the system is certainly practical, but if not innovative, they would have appreciated it a little more work on the graphic plane. As such, the Zune HD (which we recently produced a video presentation) Windows Mobile 6.5 buried six feet underground. However, both interfaces were designed by the same sire. On the other hand, it is a shame that this new home screen cannot be used in conjunction with other plug-ins "Today."
The new locking system –
The old system of native locking was done to take advantage of hardware buttons that have been integrated from Windows Mobile 5.0. To unlock the phone, he was pressing a function key at the bottom left of the screen and on the virtual key "unlocked" at the center of the screen. Now we must drag the button "lock" the center to the left or right of the screen to unlock the device. Another difference: the screen lock acquires finally ancillary functions: it displays the time now, the next occurrence of the above timetable and a list of notifications (missed calls, received mail, etc..). In selecting a notification, you can instantly access layer voice, mail client, calendar, etc.. Overall, these small changes in the right direction.
Context menus –
In previous versions of Windows Mobile, the various topics proposed by the menus were small. This choice of drawing systematically forced his pen when no key functions were present at the base of the screen. Era requires any touch, Microsoft has revised its copy by adopting large buttons that can be easily controlled using the index. This new one will not be for everyone since the major manufacturers (HTC top) had already taken the lead in implementing this functionality from Windows Mobile 6.1. On the other hand, when this was not the case, it was possible to install the program amateur FingerSuite beta which allows to have identical menus on any Smartphone Windows Mobile 5.0 and above.
Windows Marketplace :
So Apple, when newly arrived in the niche market of mobile OS, has released a finalized version of its kiosk application downloading there is a little over a year (June 2008), the dean of nomadic systems takes time . Finally, it was not until the end of 2009 and the release of Windows Mobile 6.5 for Microsoft to offer a concrete response to the now famous AppStore.
The first surprise is large: in our mobile test (II Omnia WM 6.5), the application is not integrated natively! In fact, the Windows Marketplace icon simply refers to a shortcut that will propose to download and install the program … strange. The second impact is significant: for the various items on the device, developers have used a huge font, which has the effect of truncating the names.
Let’s be honest, at present, there is no doubt that we stand still miles away from what Apple offers. Firstly, very few applications (and even fewer freeware) are available. At the time of this writing, 16 programs unfortunate fight a duel on the French store. This desert software is all the more incomprehensible when you consider that Windows Mobile is probably the platform offers the largest number of third party applications. It is really unfortunate that Microsoft has failed to take better advantage of the huge pool of developers that thrive along the mobile OS.
To continue on the setbacks of any kind, we must recognize that usability is still far from optimal. For example, the program name is truncated, making it impossible to simply read as a whole (see screen shot that lists the applications offered by Microsoft). In addition, summaries of the features are only available in the language of Shakespeare, the screenshots are not very good and the rest of Microsoft is content to simply copy / paste of part options that are proposed by the AppStore.
On a purely technical level, the program seems to be a bad end. The transition from one section to another is not always so fluid and a few small bugs fittings graphics can be seen here and there. One thing is certain: the download manager should be bound to evolve in the months and years to come. The second issue was that the pricing policy. To illustrate this concern, the very low number of games offered, none of them is free.
MyPhone: a new way to synchronize their mobile
Free services –
Microsoft benefits from the release of Windows Mobile 6.5 to launch officially MyPhone, a synchronization service data PIM and multimedia online adopts the principle of MobileMe (Apple) or DashWire (an independent multi-platform). Specifically, the majority of data contained in the mobile can be saved on the storage space. At the time of writing these lines, MyPhone is able to synchronize SMS, calendar data, address book, tasks, favorites, photos, videos, music, documents or rather the data that are stored on the memory card.
On the official website MyPhone, Microsoft also states that this area of online storage can be used to free up space on the phone. Files deleted from the phone memory can be stored in an archive folder on the website MyPhone, which is a particularly significant. For information, free offer still gives access to storage space 200 MB In addition, services are proposed. These will be available with a free account, others require the purchase of a subscription.
Paid services –
Some services require additional subscription for a subscription price which was fixed at 4 euro 99 … in increments of 7 days. By comparison, Apple, access to Mobile Me is charged 79 euros per year or, 1.64 euro per week and also offers other services, especially for Mac users. Of course, we can always retort that Apple does not offer free access. On the other hand, the paid features are not really necessary for the individual (they are mainly for business applications). Users ‘premium’ could block their phone to remotely delete the data it contains from the website MyPhone, geotag the device, or activate an alarm in case of loss of the phone.
MyPhone is not available for Windows Mobile 6.5 –
In closing paragraph, it is important to know that the MyPhone service is definitely not reserved only to users of Smartphones running Windows Mobile 6.5. To take one, just have a Smartphone powered by Windows Mobile 6.0 or higher, and install both files. CAB which are offered by Microsoft. People who have an old machine should appreciate this excellent initiative!
Interfacing with social networks –
With MyPhone, it will be possible to synchronize the photos in his mobile with his personal space. Good news, Microsoft did not stop in so good way. In fact, the Redmond company has native compatibility with leading social networks. A photo can be published directly on Windows Live, Facebook or Flickr.
MyPhone: the balance –
MyPhone is probably the most probative novelty that comes with Windows Mobile 6.5. Gossips recall that in reality the service is available for all Windows Phones powered by Windows Mobile 6 and higher. Anyway, we have here a concrete step that will be valued at fair value by users. Moreover, even if the service is not really original in that it draws heavily on devices that have already been set up by the competition (Apple head, see our article on MobileMe), it Do not forget that the major part of the free offer is proposed by Microsoft. What more?
Pocket Internet Explorer 6.5: new from something old ?
Presentation of the browser interface –
Pocket Internet Explorer is probably the integrated program that has been most profoundly altered. Nobody will complain that while this "browser" pocket was far ahead of its time when it was released (in 2000), he is now buried by the two main competitors that are embodied in Chrome lite (Android / Google ) and the mobile version of Safari (OS iPhone / Apple). It must be admitted that since the release of Apple’s browser (which still goes back more than two years), the bar was set very high. Microsoft has taken so late that the main manufacturer of Windows Mobile Smartphone (HTC) has simply decided to make a clean sweep by integrating natively alternative browser (Opera Mobile). Given the competitive context, the Redmond company had to revise its deep copy. Betting successful or damp squib? Let’s see what gives this new browser.
An ergonomics review thought for touch –
The version of Pocket Internet Explorer which equipped Windows Mobile 6.1 and earlier was clearly not optimized for use other than with a stylus. In addition to the tiny menu, it should scroll the page using an elevator (it was impossible to achieve "scrolls" by simply sliding their finger on the screen). Good news, we finally have a finger navigation and above all, a true full screen mode. Optimization touch is noticeable in particular with the integration of new virtual keys round on the bottom of the screen. With these, you can expect the previous page, to add a page in the bookmark manager, to appear on the virtual keyboard, zooming, or finally, open the options menu. In this regard, we note that this time, contextual menus are made up of large keys that can be activated without necessarily having to draw his pen.
Features and display –
As for features, if one flies over the program, there are only few changes. Apart from full screen mode, Microsoft seems to have satisfied the minimum. We found two display modes that already existed (mobile mode on a column or desktop mode), or can send the link to a page by email (the method is based on Pocket Outlook). However, when visiting a page that contains graphics made in flash, is changing: in the version 6.5, Pocket Internet Explorer is finally compatible with the Flash format. In our tests, we found it was actually possible to play a Flash video from YouTube without much difficulty. However, it is however moderate his anger. There was a video optimized for mobile phones. DailyMotion side this time, the picture is much more mixed.
On this portal specializing in the content delivery streaming, short videos have been recompressed to reflect constraints that are related to mobile format. Results of races we fall often nose to nose on an error message telling us that memory is insufficient. Even when this is not the case, the video simply refuses to open. Another amusing detail: on our test page, we find that Flash content to work, but it is sometimes impossible to interact with them. Anyway, even if care is not perfect mainly due to the low power of today’s mobile, we must still acknowledge the initiative of Microsoft and Adobe. Finally, competition is not really better. On Safari Mobile, the Flash is not supported on Android and the management of this format is catastrophic (see test HTC Hero on Engadget). Only the browser on Symbian S60 managed to hold its own in the game As for other graphic formats commonly used on the Web, we also note that the animated GIF … does not seem to be animated.
Performance and compatibility with web standards –
In practice, we must recognize that this new version of Pocket Internet Explorer is not really a lightning war. In Wi-Fi, near a terminal on the same device (HTC Touch 2), the Microsoft program is much less that Opera Mobile for what is the speed of opening Web pages.
Regarding compliance standards this time, a brief passage through the box Acid Test 3 reminds us that they are still far from being fulfilled faithfully. The iPhone is doing majestically and Opera Mobile clings hard as iron. However, as you will see in contemplating the screenshots below, Pocket Internet Explorer 6.5 is a real cold shower, could not even hold a candle to Internet Explorer 8 on Windows (with a score yet too catastrophic)
Pocket Internet Explorer has certainly been improvements that are in the right direction. However, these efforts are not enough to join the leaders. This version 6.5 is still projected behind Mobile Safari, Chrome Lite and Opera Mobile. Too bad, we really expected more from Microsoft. This poor performance is all the more incomprehensible when one knows what the Redmond giant is really capable of. Just take a look towards the Zune HD to bathe in utter incomprehension. This new portable media player has a particularly powerful browser that is owed to the Internet Explorer team. The program is fast and powerful zoom lenses can be made with a lot of multitouch.
Native applications: from small changes and total immobility –
Outlook Mobile (contacts and calendar)
Apparently, Outlook Mobile has not budged an inch deep … no more (or very little). The contact manager, calendar and email client are always true to themselves. Of course, on the surface, these managers PIM still have a little change. First, these applications benefit from the tactile system optimization. The menus are bigger and this time it is possible to scroll through lists (email, contacts, etc..) Without necessarily drawing his pen to act on lifts impractical. Like iPhone, you can browse the different headings are simply dragging finger across the screen in the vertical direction.
With Contact Manager, a few new features are still emerging. Firstly, an alphabet bar is grafted to the left of the contact list (the iPhone is still been there). Second, even if it does not jump in the eyes at the first reading, appreciates the opportunity to make a multiple selection of contact sheets so you can delete them (for example). This action was already possible with the email client in 6.1, one can appreciate it has been enlarged to Address Book.
On the client side mail, outside of profits that are made by the tactile overlay, there has been no clear differences with the previous drafts. The lines that separate lists are spaced for easy reading and manipulation, but overall, the program is strictly identical to previous versions. In fact, the point of divergence concerns the strangest probably heading that RSS is now appearing in the folder list. Apparently it is possible to live a stream by posting messages from the mail client Microsoft mobile.
The menu settings –
Regarding the optimization of the tactile system, we quickly noted that all parties have not enjoyed the same preferential treatment. While the most commonly used applications undergo a facelift, the guts of the system remain unchanged. When you put your hands dirty, it is imperative to draw his pen on pain of opening the wrong topics. As can be seen on the pictures above – below, apart from a slight indentation on the tabs, nothing has changed from previous versions of Windows Mobile …
Mobile Office Suite –
Side of Office Mobile, it does not expect will change in size. As evidenced by the screenshots below, except for OneNote Mobile which jumped chip in the version numbers, other elements of the sequence did not budge one iota. Finally, the only difference between the Office suite of Windows Mobile 6.5 from the accompanying 6.1 concerning the tactile overlay that was added by Microsoft. Now, these programs have large menus are optimized for finger manipulation. On the other hand in Pocket Word (for example), this time it is possible to navigate the document by putting his finger on the screen (the use of elevators has become optional).
At a time when the competition (Apple and Google top) prepares its weapons systems by providing modern, efficient and optimized for the web business, Microsoft had to provide a concrete answer. Instead, the Redmond giant has merely applied its old ways by reheating the soup while adding a tiny pinch of savory ingredients. This recipe has endured a decade explains why Windows Mobile just as evolving. The strategy was understandable at the time when the competition was virtually nonexistent, but it does not fit the current context. Funnier yet: Microsoft will even be competition on its own ground … Just take a look on the side of the interface of the Zune HD (see this page) to see that "all units buisness "monster of the software are not moving at the same speed. In short, if one were to summarize the new Windows Mobile 6.5 in one sentence, one could say that outside the department arrives MyPhone, new elements are far from revolutionizing the genre.
Indeed, MyPhone is probably the most important novelty that accompanies it thought the Windows Mobile 6.5. Not only the service data synchronization OTA works perfectly, but in addition, particularly appreciates that the bulk of supply is provided free. With MyPhone, users can synchronize their PIM, and documents (photos and multimedia elements included) with an area of online storage (200 MB is allocated for free by Microsoft). This excellent development is in the right direction, but so far, it will still not justify the move to Windows Mobile 6.5. Indeed, he should know that Microsoft has released a version of MyPhone which also runs on earlier versions of the system (Windows Mobile 6.0 and higher).
Concerning the other major innovation, namely, the Market Place, the disappointment is great. The program does not show any originality (Microsoft has simply clone the AppStore a year late), the ergonomics are questionable (large type and truncated names) and especially the programs available starving . At the time of this writing, 16 unsuccessful applications are available. Moreover, in batch, freeware are particularly poorly represented. Obviously, the editorial policy of the Market Place explains much of these problems.
So should we splurge on one of the newest Windows Phone? Although innovations can be counted on the fingers of one hand and the system acknowledge the weight of his years, the answer will always depend on the end user. Despite criticism, the nomadic system of Microsoft still faithful to its precepts. This environment should always perfect for lovers of personalization and customization that does not mind getting their hands dirty when necessary. On the other hand, the priority of a decade of existence associated with an almost total backwards compatibility has created a pool of applications and a community of developers impressive. Today, this environment is full of programs (often free) that can cover many uses. Even if this new version gives the status quo, we must not forget that major manufacturers do not expect Microsoft to implement tactile overlays. TouchFLO 3D (from HTC) and Spb Mobile Shell illustrate the fact that some mobile systems are taking a new turn. Microsoft seems to confirm a direction similar to Google with Android: now, the system must be regarded as a mere "engine" which will be added a wrapper which will really notice the difference. With 6.5, Microsoft confirmed its desire to shift on manufacturers by giving them the task of developing the visible face of the system. This rule will she continue? Answer at the output of the hypothetical Windows Mobile 7.0. In the meantime, he will be satisfied with the current situation, or ogle the next competition.