Review: Windows Mobile 6.5

MobilityPCWorkspace

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5 is definitely an improvement over previous versions, but it still has too many vestiges of the past.

Using a header utility on the Web, I was able to see that IE was identifying itself as “Windows CE (Pocket PC) Version 5.2” for the OS and “Windows Phone 6.5” for the agent.

I then went to CNN.com. The page loaded nicely, but then IE popped up an error message that said, “Adobe Flash Lite – Insufficient Memory.” I wasn’t sure what that was all about, but after I closed that message out, the page loaded quite nicely,

The device’s entire screen is devoted to the Web page, with a small icon in the lower-right corner that provides a list of options, such as zoom, when clicked. Initially, the text was tiny—almost too tiny to read—but I was able to see much of the CNN.com page, which was nice. I zoomed in just a tad and got a really nice view of the page.

However, although Internet Explorer is certainly improved, it often froze up while downloading common Web pages, even though I was on a high-speed Wi-Fi data connection. I couldn’t click the Stop button to halt download, and the Menu button in the lower-right did nothing. All I could do was sit and wait.

Familiar features

When I explored the device further, I started seeing some familiar features. There’s a Notes application that’s basically identical to the one on my older HTC phone with Windows Mobile 6.0.

In fact, the old drop-down menu was back, requiring me to get out the stylus. That’s when I realised that Microsoft may have prettied up the Windows Mobile interface in some places, but it still has a long way to go to appease those of us who have been spoiled by the iPhone.

Further exploration revealed more of the same. For example, once inside the Settings from the main Windows Mobile Applications page, I saw many of the same icons I had on earlier phones.

On the Settings page itself, the screen was all fancy and new, but when I opened the Settings programs themselves (such as the Memory setting), I saw the same old thing: There were some slight improvements—for instance, the Memory page has a couple tabs at the bottom with a neat 3D look, and one of the tabs has been moved to its own settings page—but, by and large, not much has changed.

So will this be the iPhone killer? Perhaps we should look to the CEO of Microsoft, who reportedly said Microsoft “screwed up” by releasing Windows Mobile 6.5 and should have gone to 7.0 right away.

Conclusion

Perhaps Version 7.0 of Windows Mobile will change the world of smartphones. But, until then, we’re stuck with a prettier interface on top of an operating system that’s much the same as it was 10 years ago, before the OS was even considered for phones—only for PDAs with a stylus.

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