Sunday, November 13, 2005

Windows Mobile 5.0 upgrade thougths

I finally upgraded my PDA to Windows Mobile 5.0 today and guess what? I 'downgraded' back to Windows Mobile 2003 SE a couple of hours later.

I wanted to like the new OS. But after struggling with it for hours I decided it wasn't worth it being an unpaid Microsoft beta tester.

Persistent Storage

This was supposed to be a good idea. Still is. But the implementation is downright shoddy. The way persistent storage technology is supposed to work is programs and data are all saved into Flash ROM ala traditional mobile phones. This works. But the downside is the whole PDA experience is ruined by a device which struggles even after a hard reset (the 'align screen' applet is so so so slow).


The GUI is still based on the same one that debuted on the original Pocket PC OS. Apart from some cosmetic changes, nicer colours et al. you would not need to re-learn much. The most significant changes is the implementation of two new soft buttons to mimic (something MS does best) those on mobile phones. A great idea ripped off from mobile phone vendors but done in Microsoft's piss poor half measure manner. The only PDA mobile OS that can be used truly one handed is PalmOS 5.x on Palm's Treo 650.


Broadcom's excellent Bluetooth stack is gone. With it came Microsoft's own Bluetooth stack. And with it went some truly good functions.

Internet Explorer Mobile

There is now a download progress bar. Hurrah! Why? To demonstrate how slow PIE is when opening websites. Stick with NetFront. Or wait for Minimo (mini Firefox).

Office suites

I haven't had a chance to test the office suites before I uninstalled WM 5.0. I played around with Word Mobile which crashed the first time I started it. It worked after a soft reset. Nothing visible that seemed to impressed me but I am no Office addict so this isn't a question to ask me.

ActiveSync 4.0

I have been using ActiveSync 4.x for a month now and it is alright. Works just like ActiveSync 3.x

But using ActiveSync 4.0 on WM 5.0, which is was designed for, was a nightmare. Firstly it did not connect with my device for the first hour until I figured that it was being shot down by Windows XP. Once I got that up and running I found it to be a tad too slow. It takes 30 seconds just to connect to my device.

I was also forced to sync 2 weeks of worthless past appointments into the PDA and I have no control over the Contacts applet.

I have read that ActiveSync 4.0/4.1 that were shipped with the Axim x50v upgrade and various WM 5.0 devices like the i-mate JasJar, are beta versions. Quite why MS are even allowed to ship beta versions on commercial products that people pay for is beyond me, but nothing surprises me anymore.

Installation/Execution of programs

Taking cue from one of Nokia's Series 60 more bad examples, WM 5.0 now asks whether I should install/execute any 'unsigned' program first. Which is annoying. I understand in the age of virus/worms this may be a good feature but come on - let us turn it off!


This isn't specifically a WM 5.0 problem. This problem is with Dell me thinks. While WM 5.0 is supposed to increase battery life, it did not for me. Apparently my x50v is chewing through the battery so much that once I removed it from my charger in a few minutes it dropped from 100% to 96%. Wow. The battery also felt hot, which is an indication that the PDA is running at full speed ALL THE TIME.


All in all a pathetic try. A worthy successor to Windows ME as a rushed and lame duck of an OS. I hope MS releases an update to WM 5.0 soon to address the problems - especially the one related to performance. With 624Mhz of processing power, it actually felt like a 206Mhz StrongARM device.


Anonymous said...

I have found a tips site for WM5 on Axims. Here is it:

Jon Choo said...

Thanks. I saw the thread a few days ago and all seemed to be temporary solutions only to the bugs. The performance issue is something that is affects me alot and I can't see how going back to ROM will help.