Six Things I Actually Like About Windows Mobile

Windows Mobile 6.5 was a failure of imagination, design and foresight. I've covered this, rather adamantly! But while the new version didn't add that much—that was the problem—there are some things I still genuinely like about Windows Mobile.

The Browsers: Even if the latest version of Mobile IE isn't spectacular, Window Mobile is still a great OS for browsing the web. Opera Mobile, now in 9.7 beta, renders pages about as well as the best WebKit browsers on the iPhone, Android and the Pre, and promises compressed rendering for faster pageloads, as well as some Flash support. Skyfire can play back Flash videos without a hiccup. You don't have these kinds of options anywhere else, at least for now. Bolt and Opera Mini both optimise the hell out of your pages, helping them load amazingly quick.

The Hardware: I've seen my fair share of clunky Windows Mobile hardware. I've also seen the OS powering some of the most spectacular handsets in the world, like the Toshiba TG01. Even disregarding the really sexy stuff, the average customer has a lot to choose from, from touchscreen-only devices to sliding QWERTY phones to candybar-style messaging devices. And given some of the latest from HTC, there's plenty more to come.

There aren't a whole lot of fans of the stock Window Mobile interface. It feels old, to put it gently. Handset manufacturers do all kinds of interesting stuff with alternative interfaces, skinning Windows Mobile until you can barely recognise it. This keeps things interesting, but so do the fantastic third-party shells like SBP Mobile Shell and PointUI Home 2, which anyone can install. These are total transformations you can apply in a matter of seconds, which is basically unique to WinMo.

Tethering: We've been grousing about the lack of tethering on other platforms for a long, long time. All the while, Windows Mobile has had a dedicated settings panel for enabling tethering built right in. [Pic via MakeTechEasier]

Infinite tweaking: Over the last few years, hobbyists have reached deeper into Windows Mobile's guts than it seems Microsoft has, and they've come up with some impressive stuff. Just about anything can be changed swapped out or customised. Want a new onscreen keyboard? A different system font? A entirely new homescreen layout? Deep changes to power management, processor control or memory allocation? Automatic orientation controls for all apps? Voice controls? It's all just a matter of installing a .CAB file or two.

Open apps: This is a double-edged sword. Windows Mobile's new Marketplace doesn't have a whole lot to offer yet, and without a good centralised source, it can be a pain to find apps, to find out if they're compatible, and to get a decent deal. That said, there is literally nobody between you and your apps. If someone wants to make a VoIP app that uses your carrier's network, they can do that. If they want to stream live video over the air, they can do that too. You might face a reckoning with your carrier, but that's fine: at least it was your choice.

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