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Tuesday, May 09, 2006.

[appz] Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0

It's the autumn release season, and new devices running Windows Mobile 5.0 have begun to hit the market. We bring you a hands-on, in-depth look at the next-generation OS.Major changes and additions in WM5 include:*Upgrading the system kernel from Windows CE 4.2 to WCE 5.01*One-handed navigation*Program compatibility between Pocket PC and Smartphone devices*Persistent storage and new memory configuration*ActiveSync 4.0*Addition of Direct3D Mobile, DirectX Mobile, & DirectDraw Mobile*Improved application suite WindowsCE kernel upgradeThe upgrading of the OS kernel is mainly an "invisible" change, at least to the end-user. Developers will have a few more options to work with, and enterprises will have new security features to insure that sensitive data doesn't get left on a lost or stolen device. But for the most part, users won't notice a real difference. One-handed navigationA long overdue addition to the Windows user interface is the ability to navigate without using the touchscreen. The PocketPC version of Windows Mobile 5.0 has adopted "soft keys" similar to those found on Windows Smartphones. These soft keys reside on the bottom of the screen, and provide context-sensitive commands. The soft keys can be activated either by tapping on them, or by pressing the hardware button associated with that key. When a softkey pulls up a menu, the directional pad can be used to select the option you want.PocketPC/Smartphone application compatibilityAnother selling point of WM5 is application compatibility between the Pocket PC and Smartphone versions of the OS. Previously, developers had to produce two seperate installs for their programs if they wanted to work on both PPC and SP. Now, the same version of a program will run on both devices, at least in theory. It's about time. The need to have seperate, incompatible versions of an application negated any real benefit from running similar operating systems on Pocket PCs and Windows Smartphones.

ActiveSync 4.0
ActiveSync 4.0 really doesn't look any different from AS3.8. All the options are the same. The update notes talk about an "Enhanced user interface," but then those same update notes talk about Bluetooth syncing like it's a new feature. The only significant difference that I can find between ActiveSync 3.8 and 4.0 is that AS4 is missing the ability to synchronize your device over a TCP/IP connection. This means that you'll no longer be able to sync over WiFi, ethernet, dialup, cellular, VPN, or any other remote access method. The only accepted means of syncing are now Bluetooth or a cabled connection to the PC. Unfortunately, if you want to sync a WM5 device, you've got no choice but to "upgrade" to AS4, since older versions refuse to sync with the new models.


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