New for the Today screen are Device Lock, and
Pocket MSN. To use device lock, simply tap on the device lock icon.
The device will be oblivious to all button presses except the power
button until you disable Device Lock by pressing the left soft
key and confirming the unlock request.
Pocket MSN is now a handy feature rather than
a dead end icon in the programs group. As a Today Screen plugin,
it's an excellent enhancement with four icons (left to right):
the butterfly which takes you to a listing of all MSN services
(Messenger, Hotmail, MSN Mobile and Pocket MSN help), the house
icon which takes you to the Pocket MSN homepage with a list of
useful, small screen optimized info pages (sports, weather, entertainment
and etc.); the MSN Messenger icon and lastly the mail icon which
takes you to your Hotmail inbox. Yes, you can now use Outlook on
the device to send and receive Hotmail.
It seems the file format for Pocket PC Today
Themes has changed: we tried a selection of our favorite extended
Windows Mobile 2003 SE themes, and the color palette changed but
the background image did not. You can still assign the JPEG of
your choice as the background image for the Today Screen as a consolation.
Boy, did we want to see the included web browser
get better. While not a revolutionary overhaul, IE is indeed better,
rendering pages more quickly and more like the desktop. Sites that
stymied prior versions of IE now look decent in default layout
mode. Yes, one column, default and desktop layout options are still
there, along with the show images option, history and pretty much
the same set of prefs found in IE on Windows Mobile 2003. IE now
has a full screen mode and a progress bar that appears at the bottom
of the screen to show page load progress. Once the page is loaded,
the progress bar disappears, so it doesn't waste screen real estate.
You can now tap and hold on a web page's image to save it to your
Windows Mobile device and just as before, you can download, save
and install CAB files found on the web.
Internet Explorer Mobile, with new menu system
Full screen mode
Sadly, NetFront 3.2 does not run on Pocket PCs
and Pocket PC phones as of this writing. NetFront 3.2 (and v. 3.3
Japanese) are designed for Windows Mobile 2003SE and crash with
a gwes.dll (graphics library) error when trying to render pages.
Contacts got a major overhaul and is both more
attractive and easier to use one-handed. There are a few important
new features too. Photo contacts are supported natively and your
contacts' photos are synced to Outlook on the desktop. There's
a search box up top where you can enter a name or number to find
a contact (you need not enter the entire name or number since it
filters your contacts as you type). The contacts directory is cleaner,
more attractive and easier to scan, as are individual contacts.
You can use the d-pad to navigate to a contact, then quickly move
to the email address to send them an email, or move to their phone
number (for phone devices) to dial them.
Office Applications for Pocket PC and Pocket
PowerPoint Mobile joins Word and Excel on Windows
Mobile 5 devices. Previous versions of the Pocket PC and MS Smartphone
OS didn't include PowerPoint, so you had to purchase a 3rd party
application. PowerPoint Mobile can view but not edit or create
PowerPoint presentations. So it's a great solution if you need
to view PowerPoint presentations sent to you via email, or give
a presentation on the go by hooking up the device to a projector
(this generally but not always requires VGA out hardware which
is sold separately). If you need to tweak your presentation on
the road, you'll still need a 3rd party application that allows
you to edit presentations.
Word Mobile supports more advanced formatting
and is less likely to munge your pretty desktop-created documents.
For example, tables are now supported and files will be saved with
tables intact. If you're an advanced user, don't abandon TextMaker
just yet. TextMaker still offers more advanced formatting capabilities.
But for general use, Word Mobile is much more worthwhile than the
old Pocket Word.
Excel Mobile also has a few tweaks up its sleeve,
which include support for chart display and creation.
Word Mobile, with table
Excel Mobile, with chart
Pictures & Videos
Pictures has been around since Windows Mobile
2003. It's now called Pictures & Videos and, as you guessed from
the name, now supports videos. Though we tried 3GP, MPEG, AVI,
ASF, WMV and MPEG4 files and none were recognized by Pictures &
Videos. Hmmm... we'll let you know when we find out what it does
While there have been additions, there were no
subtractions— all the apps you've been accustomed to are
there. These include Solitaire and Jawbreaker (renamed Bubble Breaker),
Calculator, File Explorer, Terminal Services as well as the Outlook
Mobile PIM suite (contacts, calendar, tasks, notes and email).
Though a lot has changed in WM5, we found that
most of our favorite 3rd party applications ran on Windows Mobile
5. Many developers have already updated their applications for
compatibility as necessary, so if you're running popular and regularly
updated software things look good. We tested Spb PocketPlus 3.0
and Battery Pack Pro 2, both of which are WM5 compatible and they
ran fine. Resco Explorer 2003 and 2005 as well as Resco Photo Viewer
run well, as does TCMP (The Core Media Player, formerly Beta Player),
MS Reader and eReader. Conduits Pocket Artist 2.7 worked, though
one menu is mostly hidden under the newly centered keyboard input
icon, so you need to tap near the edge of the keyboard to bring
up that menu. In the games department, Jamdat's Tennis
Addict, Arvale, and Ancient
Evil ran fine.
Mobilair's Creepy Pinball did
not run (frozen with a blank screen). Street
a gwes.dll error on launch but still ran.
Can You Upgrade to Windows Mobile 5.0?
So far, most manufacturers aren't offering many
upgrades. Windows Mobile 5.0 requires at least 64 megs of ROM,
and it's advisable to have 64 megs of RAM, and the device must
run an ARM compatible processor such as the Intel XScale or the
Samsung and Texas Instruments ARM compatibles. So
not all machines meet the basic requirements. Beyond that, there
are so many low level changes in the operating system, that testing
older devices and their software with the new OS would cost manufacturers
too much time and money.
Fujitsu Siemens Pocket LOOX 718 and 720, Fall
2005, though rumors of delay until Jan. 2006
HP iPAQ hx2000 series models (i.e. hx2750), Fall
HP iPAQ hx4700 /
hx4705, delayed until Q1 2006
Dell Axim X50 and X50v,
Samsung i730 Pocket PC phone
E-TEN M500 (TORQ P100) Pocket PC Phone: E-TEN
stated an upgrade would be available but hasn't said when.
Useful Pages on Our Site:
Pocket PC Reviews
Pocket PC Phone Reviews
MS Smartphone Reviews
Windows Mobile 2003SE Model Comparison Matrix
Microsoft's Windows Mobile web site: www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile