Windows Mobile

Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile
Windows Mobile Logo
Windows Phone 6.5.3 screenshot
Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Today Screen
Company / developer Microsoft
Programmed in C++[1]
OS family Windows CE
Working state Discontinued
Initial release 19 April 2000; 11 years ago (2000-04-19)
Latest stable release 6.5.3 / 2 February 2010; 21 months ago (2010-02-02)
Latest unstable release 6.5.5
Marketing target Mobile devices
Kernel type Windows CE 5.2 (released in 2004)
Default user interface Graphical
License Proprietary (Microsoft EULA)
Official website Windows Mobile (dead link, redirects to successor Windows Phone site)
Windows Mobile website as archived on the Wayback Machine

Windows Mobile is a mobile operating system developed by Microsoft that was used in smartphones and Pocket PCs,[2] but by 2011 was rarely supplied on new phones. The last version is "Windows Mobile 6.5.5"; it is superseded by Windows Phone, which does not run Windows Mobile software.[3][4]

Windows Mobile is based on the Windows CE 5.2 kernel. and first appeared as the Pocket PC 2000 operating system. It is supplied with a suite of basic applications developed with the Microsoft Windows API, and is designed to have features and appearance somewhat similar to desktop versions of Windows. Third parties can develop software for Windows Mobile with no restrictions imposed by Microsoft. Some software applications can be purchased via the Windows Marketplace for Mobile. By 2011, much software is developed and maintained only for the newer Windows Phone; there is little development and support for the obsolescent Windows Mobile.[5]

Most Windows Mobile devices come with a stylus, which is used to enter commands by tapping it on the screen.[6] Microsoft announced a completely new phone platform, Windows Phone, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 15, 2010. Phones running Windows Mobile 6.x will not be upgradeable to version 7,[7] officially. Several developers however, have ported Windows Phone to devices natively running Windows Mobile, an example being the HTC HD2.

Windows Mobile's share of the smartphone market has fallen year-on-year,[8] decreasing by 20% in Q3 2009.[9] In August 2010, it was the fifth most popular smartphone operating system, with a 5% share of the worldwide smartphone market (after Symbian, BlackBerry OS, Android, and iOS).[10]


Common features

Most versions of Windows Mobile for Pocket PC have these standard features:

  • Today screen shows the current date, owner information, upcoming appointments, e-mail messages, and tasks. (Home screen in later WM6.5 builds)
  • The taskbar shows the current time and the audio volume.
  • Office Mobile, a suite of Mobile versions of Microsoft Office applications, including Outlook Mobile.
  • Internet Explorer Mobile, an Internet browser developed by Microsoft for Pocket PC and Handheld PC that comes loaded by default with Windows Mobile and Windows CE for Handheld PC.
  • Windows Media Player for Windows Mobile.
  • Client for PPTP VPNs.
  • Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), which in mobile phones allows the phone to make its Internet connection available to computers via USB and Bluetooth.
  • File system similar to that of Windows 9x/Windows NT, with support for many of the same file types.
  • Ability to multitask.


MS Windows Mobile was originally developed by the English ‘feature phone’ designer Sendo based on MS Windows Pocket PC, itself a version of MS Windows CE. As Microsoft failed to provide them with enough source code access to launch their Sendo Z100 product with the expected quality, Microsoft took all Sendo’s work and passed it on to HTC, who had its HTC Canary launched as the Orange SPV 100 product. Sendo had to shift all its resources to Symbian development, but sued Microsoft and got a US$40 million dollar settlement. This did now stave off Sendo’s decadence and it was eventually acquired by Motorola.[11]


There are three versions of Windows Mobile for various hardware devices:[12]

  • Windows Mobile Professional runs on smartphones with touchscreens
  • Windows Mobile Standard runs on phones without touchscreens
  • Windows Mobile Classic which runs on 'Windows Mobile Classic devices' (Pocket PCs). *In exceptional
    An O2 Pocket PC phone
    A Smartphone (T-Mobile Dash)

Windows Mobile Classic devices (Pocket PC)

A 'Windows Mobile Classic device' is a Windows Mobile personal digital assistant (PDA) that does not have telephone functionality. It was formerly known as the Pocket PC. It was the original intended platform for the Windows Mobile operating system. These devices consisted of both standalone Pocket PC devices without mobile phone capabilities, and those that included mobile phone capabilities. The most current name of Windows Mobile intended for use on Pocket PCs is officially "Windows Mobile 6 Professional" for devices with mobile phone capabilities and "Windows Mobile 6 Classic" for devices without mobile phone capabilities.

Windows Mobile Smartphones

The 'Windows Mobile' (Microsoft's term for its range of smartphones) became the next hardware platform after the Pocket PC to run Windows Mobile, and debuted with the release of Pocket PC 2002. Although in the broad sense of the term "Smartphone", both Pocket PC phones and Microsoft branded Smartphones each fit into this category, it should be noted that Microsoft's use of the term "Smartphone" includes only more specific hardware devices that differ from Pocket PC phones. Such Smartphones were originally designed without touchscreens, intended to be operated more efficiently with only one hand, and typically had lower display resolution than Pocket PCs. Microsoft's focus for the Smartphone platform was to create a device that functioned well as a phone and data device in a more integrated manner.[13]

Version history

Pocket PC 2000

Typical Pocket PC 2000 Today Screen.

Pocket PC 2000, originally codenamed "Rapier",[14] was released on April 19, 2000, and was based on Windows CE 3.0. It was the debut of what was later dubbed the Windows Mobile operating system, and meant to be a successor to the operating system aboard Palm-Size PCs. Backwards compatibility was retained with such Palm-Size PC applications. Pocket PC 2000 was intended mainly for Pocket PC devices, however several Palm-Size PC devices had the ability to be updated also. Further, several Pocket PC 2000 phones were released, however Microsoft's "Smartphone" hardware platform was not yet created. The only resolution supported by this release was 240 x 320 (QVGA). Removable storage card formats that were supported were CompactFlash and MultiMediaCard. At this time Pocket PC devices had not been standardized with a specific CPU architecture. As a result, Pocket PC 2000 was released on multiple CPU architectures; SH-3, MIPS, and ARM.

The original Pocket PC operating system had similar appearance to Windows 98, Windows Me, and Windows 2000 operating systems.

Features/built-in applications for Pocket PC 2000 included the following:[15]

Pocket PC 2002

Typical Pocket PC 2002 Today Screen.

Pocket PC 2002, originally codenamed "Merlin",[14] was released in October 2001. Like Pocket PC 2000, it was powered by Windows CE 3.0. Although targeted mainly for 240 × 320 (QVGA) Pocket PC devices, Pocket PC 2002 was also used for Pocket PC phones, and for the first time, Smartphones.[16] These Pocket PC 2002 Smartphones were mainly GSM devices. With future releases, the Pocket PC and Smartphone lines would increasingly collide as the licensing terms were relaxed allowing OEMs to take advantage of more innovative, individual design ideas. Aesthetically, Pocket PC 2002 was meant to be similar in design to the then newly released Windows XP.

New features and built-in applications included the following:[17][18][19][20]

Windows Mobile 2003

Typical Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Today Screen

Windows Mobile 2003 (aka wm2003 and WM2003), originally codenamed "Ozone",[14] was released on June 23, 2003, and was the first release under the Windows Mobile banner. It came in four editions: "Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Premium Edition", "Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Professional Edition", "Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone" and "Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Phone Edition". The last was designed especially for Pocket PCs which include phone functionalities. The Professional Edition was used in Pocket PC budget models. It lacked a number of features that were in the Premium Edition, such as a client for L2TP/IPsec VPNs. Windows Mobile 2003 was powered by Windows CE 4.20.

New features/built-in applications included the following:[21]

  • Support for add-on keyboards
  • Enhanced communications interface with Bluetooth device management
  • Bluetooth file beaming support
  • Bluetooth headset support
  • Pictures application with viewing, cropping, e-mail, and beaming support
  • Jawbreaker game
  • Enhanced Pocket Outlook with vCard and vCal support
  • Improved Pocket Internet Explorer
  • Windows Media Player 9.0 with streaming optimization
  • SMS reply options for Phone Edition
  • MIDI file support as ringtones in Phone Edition

Windows Mobile 2003 SE

Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, also known as "Windows Mobile 2003 SE", was released on March 24, 2004 and first offered on the Dell Axim x30. This was the last version which allowed users to backup and restore an entire device through ActiveSync.

New features/built-in applications included the following:

Windows Mobile 5

Typical Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC Today Screen

Windows Mobile 5.0, originally codenamed "Magneto",[14] was released at Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Developers Conference 2005 in Las Vegas, May 9–12, 2005. Microsoft offered mainstream support for Windows Mobile 5 through October 12, 2010, and extended support through October 13, 2015.[22] It was first offered on the Dell Axim x51. It used the .NET Compact Framework 1.0 SP3, an environment for programs based on .NET.

  • Windows Mobile 5.0 included Microsoft Exchange Server "push" functionality improvements that worked with Exchange 2003 SP2.[23] The "push" functionality also required vendor/device support[24] With AKU2 software upgrades all WM 5.0 devices supported DirectPush.
  • WM 5.0 featured increased battery life due to Persistent storage capability. Previously up to 50% (enough for 72 hours of storage) of battery power was reserved just to maintain data in volatile RAM. This continued the trend of Windows-based devices moving from using RAM as their primary storage medium to the use of a combination of RAM and flash memory (in use, no distinction between the two is obvious to users). Programs and frequently accessed data run in RAM, while most storage is in the flash memory. The OS seamlessly moves data between the two as needed. Everything is backed up in the flash memory, so unlike prior devices, WM5 devices lose no data if power is lost.
  • With Windows Mobile 5.0, OS updates were released as Adaptation kit upgrades. AKU 3.5 is the most recent release for WM 5.0.

Further new features and built-in applications included:

  • New version of Office called "Office Mobile"
    • PowerPoint Mobile
    • Graphing capability in Excel Mobile
    • Tables and graphics insertion in Word Mobile
  • Windows Media Player 10 Mobile
  • Photo Caller ID
  • DirectShow support
  • Picture and Video package, which converged the management of videos and pictures
  • Enhanced Bluetooth support
  • Global Positioning System (GPS) management interface
  • Default QWERTY keyboard-support
  • Error reporting facility similar to that present in desktop and server Windows systems
  • ActiveSync 4.2 with 15% increased synchronization speed

Windows Mobile 6

Windows Mobile 6.5 Using the HTC Sense User Interface

Windows Mobile 6, formerly codenamed "Crossbow",[14] was released on February 12, 2007[25] at the 3GSM World Congress 2007. It comes in three different versions: "Windows Mobile 6 Standard" for Smartphones (phones without touchscreens), "Windows Mobile 6 Professional" for Pocket PCs with phone functionality, and "Windows Mobile 6 Classic" for Pocket PCs without cellular radios.[26]

Windows Mobile 6 is powered by Windows CE 5.0 (version 5.2) and is strongly linked to Windows Live and Exchange 2007 products. Windows Mobile 6 Standard was first offered on the Orange's SPV E650,[27] while Windows Mobile 6 Professional was first offered on the O2's Xda Terra.[28] Aesthetically, Windows Mobile 6 was meant to be similar in design to the then newly released Windows Vista. Functionally, it works much like Windows Mobile 5, but with much better stability.

New features/built-in applications include the following:[29]

  • 320x320 and 800x480 (WVGA) screen resolution support (The S01SH or "Em One" by Sharp was the first and only device to have a 800x480 screen on WM5)[30]
  • Office Mobile support for Smartphones
  • Operating System Live Update[31]
  • Improved Remote Desktop access[32] (Available for only certain Pocket PCs)[33]
  • VoIP (Internet calling) support with AEC (Acoustic Echo Cancelling) and MSRT Audio Codec
  • Windows Live for Windows Mobile[34]
  • Customer Feedback option[35]
  • Enhanced Microsoft Bluetooth Stack
  • Storage Card Encryption (encryption keys are lost if device is cold-booted).
  • Smartfilter for searching within programs
  • Improved Internet Sharing
  • HTML email support in Outlook Mobile
  • Search ability for contacts in an Exchange Server Address Book
  • AJAX, JavaScript, and XMLDOM support on Internet Explorer Mobile
  • Out of Office Replies with Microsoft Exchange 2007
  • Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) support for select operators
  • Server Search on Microsoft Exchange 2007
  • .NET Compact Framework v2 SP2 Preinstalled in ROM
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Compact Edition Preinstalled in ROM
  • OneNote Mobile as a companion to Microsoft Office OneNote
  • Office Mobile 6.1 announced[36] with support for Office 2007 document formats (pptx, docx, xlsx).

Windows Mobile 6.1

Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Today Screen

Windows Mobile 6.1 was announced April 1, 2008. It is a minor upgrade to the Windows Mobile 6 platform with various performance enhancements and a redesigned Home screen featuring horizontal tiles that expand on clicking to display more information, although this new home screen is featured only on Windows Mobile Standard edition. This was not supported in the Professional edition.[37] Several other changes such as threaded SMS, full page zooming in Internet Explorer and 'Domain Enroll' were also added, along with a "mobile" version of the Microsoft OneNote program and an interactive "Getting Started" wizard. Domain Enroll is functionality to connect the device to System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008, a product to manage mobile devices.[38] The most apparent of the other differences is that the Standard version (like prior versions) still creates automatic links for telephone numbers in Tasks and Appointments, which allows for the easier click and dial of stored telephone numbers within these Outlook items. This feature is not supported in the Professional version. Windows Mobile 6.1 also had improved bandwidth efficiency in its push-email protocol "Activesync" of "up to 40%";[39] this considerably improved battery life in many devices.

Aside from the visual and feature distinctions, the underlying CE versions can be used to differentiate WM6.0 from WM 6.1. The version of Windows CE in WM 6.0 is 5.2.*, with the final number being a 4 digit build ID (e.g. 5.2.1622 on HTC Wing). In WM 6.1, the CE version is 5.2.* with a 5 digit build number (e.g. 5.2.19216 on Palm Treo 800w).

Windows Mobile 6.5

A screenshot of the Windows Mobile 6.5 Today Screen, 'Titanium'

Windows Mobile 6.5 was never part of Microsoft's mobile phone roadmap, and has been described by its chief executive, Steve Ballmer, as "not the full release [Microsoft] wanted" until the multi-touch-enabled Windows Mobile 7 (now replaced by Windows Phone) arrived in 2010.[40] Version 6.5 is an upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.1 that was released to manufacturers on May 11, 2009; the first devices running the operating system appeared in late October 2009.[41] This minor incremental update includes some significant new added features, such as a revamped GUI, new Today screen with vertically scrollable labels (called 'Titanium').[42] WM6.5 also includes the new Internet Explorer Mobile 6 browser, with improved interface.[43]

Microsoft unveiled this version at the 2009 Mobile World Congress in February,[44] and several devices were supplied with it;[45] devices running Windows Mobile 6.5 and later are marketed as "Windows phones". Along with Windows Mobile 6.5, Microsoft announced several Cloud computing services codenamed "SkyBox", "SkyLine", "SkyMarket".[46] "SkyBox" has been confirmed as My Phone,[47] while "SkyMarket" has been confirmed as Windows Marketplace for Mobile.[48] Some aspects of the user interface were redesigned, with the home screen resembling that of Microsoft's Zune player and the sliding panel interface of Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard. This version was designed mainly for easier finger usage.[49] Whilst this version of Windows Mobile does not natively support capacitive screens, mobile manufacturers have been able to use them on their devices [50]

Several phones running Windows Mobile 6.1 can be updated to Windows Mobile 6.5.[51]

Windows Mobile 6.5.1

Builds of Windows Mobile 6.5.1 have been unofficially ported to several Windows Mobile phones.[52] Windows Mobile 6.5.1 brings a more finger-friendly user interface,[53] including icon based soft buttons (rather than text based),[54] an updated contacts app,[55] Microsoft (rather than the mobile carrier) support for A-GPS,[53] improved threaded text messaging,[56] and performance improvements.[57]

Windows Mobile 6.5.3

A Screenshot of the Windows Phone 6.5.3 Today Screen 'Titanium' (notice the new location of the start button)

On February 2, 2010, the Sony Ericsson Aspen with Windows Mobile 6.5.3 was officially announced, making it the first Windows Phone 6.5.3 smartphone.[58] Since November 2009, several 6.5.3 builds had leaked (28nnn) and had been unofficially ported to some Windows Phones.

Windows Mobile 6.5.3 brings a more finger-friendly user interface with several new usability features such as support for multitouch, complete touch control i.e. no need for a stylus, and drag-and-drop start menu icons. Touchable tiles replaced soft keys."[59] Internet Explorer Mobile 6 has also received some major updates including decreased page load time, improved memory management and gesture smoothing.[60]

Additional features of newer Windows Mobile 6.5.3 builds include threaded email and Office Mobile 2010.[60]

Windows Mobile 6.5.5

Several builds of Windows Mobile 6.5.x leaked since January 2010, and were unofficially ported to some Windows Mobile phones.[61] The name Windows Mobile 6.5.5 has been applied to these newer builds, although this name remains unconfirmed by Microsoft.

Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5

On 10 January 2011, Microsoft announced Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5. The operating system has compatibility with Windows Mobile 6.5 and is presented as an enterprise handheld device, targeting retailers, delivery companies, and other companies that rely on handheld computing.[62]

Successor to Windows Mobile

Windows Phone

The Start screen of Windows Phone

Windows Phone was launched in Europe, Singapore, and Australia on October 21, 2010, and in the US and Canada on November 8, 2010, with the rest of the world to follow in 2011.[63] Microsoft had originally planned to continue the Windows Mobile line to Windows Mobile 7, based on an upgrade to the Windows Mobile platform, codenamed Photon. The original Photon and Windows Mobile 7 have since been scrapped; however, Microsoft decided to create a new mobile OS platform and officially announced Windows Phone 7 Series in its place.[64] Microsoft has since renamed the operating system from Windows Phone 7 Series to Windows Phone 7.[65]

Windows Phone was initially intended to be released during 2009, but several delays, likely due to the move away from Photon and to building an entirely different and new platform, prompted Microsoft to develop Windows Mobile 6.5 as an interim release. During the Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona, Microsoft revealed details of Windows Phone, which features a new operating system and integration with Xbox Live and Zune services.

Most phones currently running Windows Mobile 6.x are not upgradeable to Windows Phone,[66] although hacked firmwares with Phone 7 are becoming increasingly popular.[67]

Microsoft Kin

Microsoft Kin was a family of mobile telephones which started with Microsoft's purchase of Danger Hiptop in 2008.[68] Microsoft Kin was developed inside Microsoft's Premium Mobile Experiences (PMX) division.[69] Microsoft brought in employees from Danger Inc., with the intention of infusing industry talent and mobile experience into the project. The goal was said to be to create a mobile platform far superior to that of the Danger Sidekick. Reports say that Microsoft Kin was originally going to be based on Windows Phone. However, due to delays with the latter, it was built directly upon Windows CE. It featured the Zune marketplace, and used XNA as a game platform.[69]

The platform was aimed at producing phones designed for users who are heavily into social networking and instant messaging.[70] The technology acquired from Danger Hiptop has been described as a family of mobile devices running a bespoke operating system as part of a client–server system that is then licenced to mobile carriers.[71]

Microsoft introduced two new handsets based on Microsoft Kin, codenamed Turtle and Pure, possibly to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show.[72] The Microsoft designed phones were manufactured by Sharp and co-branded.[73]

The devices received very critical reviews and Microsoft announced the discontinuation of the KIN line on June 30, 2010, only six weeks after it was launched.[74]

Naming conventions

Pocket PC 2000 Pocket PC 2002 Windows Mobile 2003 Windows Mobile 2003 SE Windows Mobile 5.0 Windows Mobile 6 Windows Mobile 6.1 Windows Mobile 6.5
Pocket PC (without Mobile Phone) Pocket PC 2000 Pocket PC 2002 Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC SE Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC Windows Mobile 6 Classic Windows Mobile 6.1 Classic N/A
Pocket PC (with Mobile Phone) Pocket PC 2000 Phone Edition Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Phone Edition Windows Mobile 2003 SE for Pocket PC Phone Edition Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC Phone Edition Windows Mobile 6 Professional Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional
Smartphone (without touch screen) N/A Smartphone 2002 Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone Windows Mobile 2003 SE for Smartphone Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphone Windows Mobile 6 Standard Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard Windows Mobile 6.5 Standard

Other: Windows Mobile for Automotive 1.0, Windows Mobile software for Portable Media Centers

Market share


A Ford Territory with Windows Mobile advertising seen in Auckland, New Zealand in 2008.

Windows Mobile's share of the smartphone market has been in decline year-on-year. Gartner research data showed that while the total smartphone industry grew 27% between 2008 and 2009, Windows Mobile's share of the smartphone market fell 2.7% in that same period.[8]

In 2004, Windows Mobile accounted for 23% of worldwide smartphone sales.[75] Windows Mobile was projected to overtake Symbian to become the leading mobile OS by 2010.[76] But by 2008, its share had dropped to 14%.[77] Microsoft licensed Windows Mobile to four out of the world's five largest mobile phone manufacturers, with Nokia being the exception.[78]

Although Microsoft apparently has 50 handset partners,[79] 80% of the 50 million Windows Mobile devices made have been built by one contract manufacturing group, HTC, which makes handsets for several major companies under their brands, and under its own brand.[80]

In February 2009 Microsoft signed a deal with the third largest mobile phone maker, LG Electronics, to license Windows Mobile OS on 50 upcoming LG smartphone models.[81] But in September, 2009, Palm, Inc. announced it would drop Windows Mobile from its smartphone line-up.[82] An October 2009 report in DigiTimes said that Acer will shift its focus from Windows Mobile to Google Android.[83]

At one time Windows Mobile was the most popular handset for business use,[citation needed] but by 2009 this was no longer the case; 24% of planned business deployments of mobile application were for Windows Mobile, putting it in 3rd place, behind Blackberry (61%) and iPhone (27%);[84] Gartner estimated that by the third quarter of 2009 Windows Mobile's share of worldwide smartphone sales was 7.9%.[9] By August 2010, it was the fifth most popular smartphone operating system, with a 5% share of the worldwide smartphone market (after Symbian, BlackBerry OS, Android and iOS).[10]

Samsung announced in November 2009 that it would phase out the Windows Mobile platform,[85] to concentrate on its own Bada operating system, Google's Android, and Microsoft's Windows Phone.[86]

Possible trends

From late 2009 many industry analysts and media reports began to express concerns about the future viability of the Windows Mobile platform, and whether Microsoft would keep supporting it into the future.[87][88][89]

Gartner analysts questioned whether Windows Mobile had a future beyond version 7, due to its poor performance and falling market share. However, Gartner said that while Windows Mobile may be discontinued for consumer-focused smartphones, it still had a future in specialized industrial applications, such as for ruggedized devices used in warehousing and delivery trucks.[89] Gartner said that Windows Mobile 7 could be "the last throw of the dice."[90]

In August 2009, analysts J.Gold Associates predicted in BusinessWeek that Microsoft would probably exit the mobile operating system market sometime between 2010 and 2011.[91]

The New York Times reported in 2009 that Windows Mobile "is foundering", as cellphone makers desert it in favor of Google's Android phone platform.[92] It cited the difficulties in Microsoft's business model, which involves charging handset manufacturers up to $25 for each copy of Windows Mobile, while rival Google gives away Android for free.[93]

The Washington Post said Windows Mobile is "bleeding market share in the space, and the future looks grim." It said that Google is using Android to "kill" Windows Mobile.[94]

In February 2010, Microsoft announced a new mobile operating system, Windows Phone. It has been built from scratch and bears no resemblance to its predecessors. It was released on October 21, 2010 in Europe and on November 8, 2010 in the United States.[citation needed]

Software development

Software may be developed by third parties for the Windows Mobile operating system. Developers have several options for deploying mobile applications. These include writing native code with Visual C++, writing managed code that works with the .NET Compact Framework, or server-side code that can be deployed using Internet Explorer Mobile or a mobile client on a user's device. The .NET Compact Framework is a subset of the .NET Framework and hence shares many components with software development on desktop clients, application servers, and web servers which have the .NET Framework installed, thus integrating networked computing space (a.k.a. "The Cloud").[95]

Microsoft typically releases Windows Phone software development kits (SDKs) that work in conjunction with their Visual Studio development environment. These SDKs include emulator images for developers to test and debug their applications while writing them. Microsoft also distributes Visual Studio 2008 / 2005 Professional Editions, and server / database counterparts to students as downloads free of charge via its DreamSpark program.[96]

Developer communities have used the SDK to port later versions of Windows Mobile OS to older devices and making the OS images available for free, thus providing the devices with the current feature set. Microsoft has tolerated this procedure for some time but decided in February 2007 to ask developers to take their OS images off the net, which in turn raised discussions.[97] At the same time Microsoft offered upgrades to Windows Mobile 6 versions to manufacturers for free.[98]

Lazarus, Lexico, NS Basic and Basic4ppc provide alternative development environments. They allow development on a separate computer, which is then downloaded to the target device. NS Basic and Basic4ppc[99] allow development on the target device.

Some 3rd party development tools such as Basic4ppc use the .NET Compact Framework. This has been possible only for the last couple years. Prior to the release of Windows Mobile 2003, third-party software was developed using Microsoft's eMbedded Visual Tools, eMbedded Visual Basic (eVB) and eMbedded Visual C (eVC).[100] eVB programs can usually be converted fairly easily to NS Basic/CE.[101] or to Basic4ppc.

Windows Mobile applications need to be optimized for touch screen user interfaces. The developer also needs to take into the account the lower CPU performance of older devices. .NET Compact Framework thus offers only a very basic and narrowed functionality of .NET Framework. Some 3rd party tools such as Resco MobileForms Toolkit,[102] which is built into Microsoft Visual Studio, add various controls, components and libraries for Windows Mobile developers.

There is also a GCC port called CeGCC. For scripting languages, there is a Python port named PythonCE, and a Tcl-Tk port called eTcl.[103] It can be used to develop applications on Windows Mobile phone.

Satellite Forms is a rapid application development (RAD) tool that can produce Windows Phone compatible applications that use an RDK runtime engine. Extension libraries extend the functionality for various hardware.

On 5 July 2009, Microsoft opened a third-party application distribution service called Windows Marketplace for Mobile.[104]


  • Versions of Windows Mobile prior to 6.5.3 did not recognize multi-touch screens. Device maker HTC Corporation created some work-arounds to allow multi-touch to work on some applications it installed on its HD2 handset. However, Microsoft applications on this handset, such as the Internet Explorer web browser, do not support multi-touch.[105]
  • The interface of Windows Mobile 6.5 shows inconsistencies, with some applications requiring users to hold a stylus to operate them.[106]
  • Many Windows Mobile business applications were designed for a stylus-pen input, and are difficult or impossible to use on a capacitative multi-touch screen.[107]
  • Unlike Windows for desktop computers, the Windows Mobile operating system cannot be upgraded by normal users. Upgrades can only be supplied by telephone service providers or hardware providers. Development and implementation of a custom free-of-charge upgrade for each device requires considerable resource from the manufacturer, generates no income, and extends the life of older equipment instead of encouraging purchase of new. Windows Mobile upgrades are rarely released.[108]
  • Several analysts from both Gartner and J.Gold Associates have expressed concern about the long-term future of Windows Mobile.[109] Motorola and Fedex said that Microsoft had given a commitment to continue supporting Windows Mobile, at least for use in rugged industrial devices.[110]
  • On 25 September 2009, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated that the company "screwed up with Windows Mobile". He lamented that Windows Mobile version 7 was not yet available. He said he had recently changed the Windows Mobile team to try to recoup losses.[111]
  • Windows Mobile 6.5.x was based on the Windows CE 5.2 kernel, the same kernel that was running in Windows Mobile 5.0 in 2004. Windows Mobile 6.5.x has not been optimized for more modern processors, such as the Snapdragon processors. Its successor, Windows Phone, runs an updated kernel based on Windows CE 6 R3 and Windows CE 7.[107]
  • Many popular third party applications have withdrawn support and compatibility for the operating system. For example, Skype[112] for Windows Mobile is no longer available or supported officially. No currently available version of Flash Lite[113] will run on Windows Mobile, cutting owners off from most streamed audio content.
  • A 2009 survey by CFI Group showed that Windows Mobile users had a low level of customer satisfaction when compared to users of other smartphones. Out of a possible 100 points, Windows Mobile rated only 66, compared with BlackBerry (73), Palm Pre (77), Google Android (77), and iPhone (83).[114]

See also


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  3. ^ Nicholas Kolakowski (15 March 2010). "Microsoft Explains Windows Phone 7 Lack of Compatibility". eWeek. 
  4. ^ "Windows Phone 7: A New Kind of Phone (36:47 min. in)". Microsoft. 2010-06-13. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
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  8. ^ a b "Windows Mobile loses 2.7% of smartphone market in Q209". Ars Technica. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
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  10. ^ a b "Gartner: Android has overtaken iPhone worldwide". Electronista. 12 August 2010. 
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  13. ^ Mobile Phones|Smartphone - Software Features Overview. Microsoft. Retrieved 6 September 2007 from the Internet Archive.
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  15. ^ De Herrera, Chris. More Than a PDA!. Pocket PC Magazine. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  16. ^ Morris, John; Taylor, Josh, Microsoft jumps in the all-in-one game,, Retrieved from the Internet Archive 6 September 2007.
  17. ^ Announcing the New Pocket PC 2002, Microsoft, Retrieved from the Internet Archive 6 September 2007.
  18. ^ Gray, Douglas. HP to unveil Jornada 560 series of handhelds. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  19. ^ Gray, Douglas. Palming new handhelds: Pocket PC 2002. CNN. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
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