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Exclusive. Cross Pocket PC and Smartphone

Some time ago strong technical differences of smartphones and Pocket PCs made Microsoft divide the mobile OS version in two branches: MS Pocket PC and MS Smartphone. Despite of the fact that the operating systems were based on the same kernel with technically similar shell, the final user sensed serious differences, from screen resolution to fundamental differences in ergonomics (the one has a pen input, the other doesnt).

With time the smartphone specs have been reaching the level of Pocket PC, and soon it became clear that in a couple of years theyd have to install different OS to the same hardware. As a result weve got something of the kind, just compare the specs of HTC Tornado and HTC Wizard, for example. Its hard not to notice the coincidence in the specs. It was clear for Microsoft that there was no sense in two operating systems, when touch screens appeared in ordinary smartphones. Thus the company chose to merge both systems smoothly. It meant to merge and not to cancel one of them. Well, the process runs in several stages.

At the first stage both OS were under the same brand Windows Mobile. Its a marketing move, that was the ground for the next step. So, MS Pocket PC and MS Smartphone had been transformed to Windows Mobile for Pocket PC and Windows Mobile for Smartphone.

At the next stage with the release of the fifth version of Windows Mobile there followed one of the final moves. The version for PPC got the opportunity to operate without the touch screen (soft buttons, improved D-pad navigation, improved work with the keyboard). As for the fifth WM version for smartphone, it was slightly changed.

As we wrote in the Windows Mobile 5.0 review half a year ago, it was logical to have an opportunity to launch Smartphone applications on Pocket PC version. The implementation wasnt technically difficult, taking into account the common kernel and similar shell. The user got the access to plenty of application that could be initially operated by two soft buttons, a joystick and digital keys; and the access to some programs absent in Pocket PC. For example, ProfiMail or Opera for Smartphones. Correctly written games also run on Pocket PC, besides they are full screen and get normally adjusted to screen orientation. But many applications and games either run ugly or do not get launched.

Now lets talk why we decided to publish this article. As for the software compatibility of both Windows Mobile versions, the developers advanced farther applications for Pocket PC run on smartphones powered by WM 5.0 for Smartphone, i.e. on such devices as HTC Tornado (Qtek 8310/8300, I-mate SP5), Motorola Q. It was an incidental discovery. HTC Tornado smartphone (the first smartphone with integrated Wi-Fi) lacks VoIP applications, beta-version of Skype client for smartphone supports only text input.

The developers position is the following. There is no support of voice messages in the client for smartphones: firstly, processor productivity is not enough (200 MHz); secondly, connection speed is too low. We tried to launch the version for Pocket PC. And it does work! However the problem is that it is meant to work with the touch screen, without it you cant get authorized in the system. It doesnt matter, we used Pocket Controller Professional 5.03 to operate the smartphone from PC screen, and weve got successfully authorized in the system and made a call via Skype. The headset produced good sound, but frames were dropping out from time to time, the sound quality proved acceptable. Resume:

  • Applications for Pocket PC do run, but not many of them. You shouldnt be mistaken and think that there is no need in Pocket PC;
  • You have to copy applications to the smartphone as an executive file, its impossible to install them with Active Sync or setup CAB file;
  • You have to use a screen remote control application, for example, Pocket Controller Professional;
  • There is a working VoIP application on WM for Smartphone. The developers of Skype should try hard to find reasons why not to do a normal voice client for smartphones.

The creator of Haali Reader, Mike Matsnev, said the following in a private talk about Haali Reader for smartphones: Microsoft added several dll with the interface for taskbar, OK button and something else to Pocket PC. The version 2.11 didnt have it, there is a separate dll from ROM. That is Haali Reader might run on smartphones.

Thus, there is no doubt, from the moment the WM 5.0 for Smartphone devices come out, there will be attempts to create cursor emulators, to transfer dll files of smartphones, to make working the majority of Pocket PC applications on WM for Smartphone. Id highlight the following point, should these attempts be a success, the smartphones wont get the full functionality of Pocket PC. Such experiments are for enthusiasts. However the fact is evident Microsoft means to leave just one mobile version of Windows alive.

Anton Kotov (anton.kotov@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Anja Rytchkova (anja.rytchkova@mobile-review.com)

Published - 26 September 2005

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