Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition: Exposed!

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WHAT’S
HOT

   Between added support for landscape and higher
resolution screens, it seems that many longtime Pocket PC enthusiasts
are finally having their prayers answered. Little niceties have been
added as well, included a better looking icon set and further refinements
to the Connections control applet.

OVERALL
USER INTERFACE CHANGES

   In my travels across the internet, only a few
sites took the time to cover pictorially the changes brought to Windows
Mobile’s UI in the Second Edition. That being said, we’ve done our best
to be comprehensive.

Whenever
you install something that wasn’t designed to be screen orientation
aware
, Windows Mobile gives a warning about its possible incompatibility.
Many seemed worried about this point, but after installing my usual
roundup of applications used previously on my Pocket PC 2002 and Windows
Mobile 2003 devices, I found that they still run exceedingly well, and
in most cases still run well even in landscape mode (as you’ll see further
down in this review).

The
Today screen in both portrait and landscape mode. You’ll note
that on the particular Pocket PC I used, Cleartype font smoothing
was only running in portrait mode.
The
Start Menu in both portrait and landscape mode. As you can see
on the left, Microsoft has moved the most recently used programs
below the first dividing line, and allowed for their full names
to be displayed. As for the landscape view, the traditional icon
based most recently used program list is used on top.

The
Start Menu in both portrait and landscape mode. As you can see
on the left, Microsoft has moved the most recently used programs
below the first dividing line, and allowed for their full names
to be displayed. As for the landscape view, the traditional icon
based most recently used program list is used on top.

The
Calendar application was more usable in portrait mode. Having
it in landscape mode for the day view seemed to waste space in
all the wrong places.
Using
Contacts in landscape didn’t seem to be beneficial, perhaps my
contacts need to get longer names.
Internet
Explorer on the Pocket PC has picked up some new features. There
are now three ways to view a web page. On the left is the Default
view. As you can see, it incurs some side to side scrolling and
attempts to shrink the images to fit. The view on the right is
called One Column, and in almost all cases shreds the
web page into one column so as to avoid side to side scrolling
completely.

Internet
Explorer on the Pocket PC has picked up some new features. There
are now three ways to view a web page. On the left is the Default
view. As you can see, it incurs some side to side scrolling and
attempts to shrink the images to fit. The view on the right is
called One Column, and in almost all cases shreds the
web page into one column so as to avoid side to side scrolling
completely.

On
the left is the Desktop view, which does not shrink
the images and displays the web page much like a desktop PC
would, scrolling and all. On the right is Desktop view
in landscape mode.

On
the left is the Desktop view, which does not shrink
the images and displays the web page much like a desktop PC
would, scrolling and all. On the right is Desktop view
in landscape mode.

Viewing
web pages in Desktop view with landscape enabled provides so
much more functionality for the Pocket PC. For the first time, I can
quickly navigate full web sites that are not ordinarily PDA friendly.

The
Programs menu adapts quickly to landscape orientation.

The
Programs menu adapts quickly to landscape orientation.

Pocket
Inbox has been renamed to Messaging in Windows Mobile
2003: SE. Using Messaging in landscape mode allows
the user to see the full subject and sender line.

Pocket
Inbox has been renamed to Messaging in Windows Mobile
2003: SE. Using Messaging in landscape mode allows
the user to see the full subject and sender line.

Keeping
consistent with the changes to Messaging, Activesync email
is now being called Outlook E-mail.

The
spinning dial used to note when the Pocket PC is busy has been replaced
with a higher quality version. The colors are more vivid and it spins
much more smoothly.

In
landscape mode, with the keyboard up, there is very little room to spare
in some programs.

Terminal
Services is a joy to use in landscape. It’s much easier to work with
a remote PC when the client is in the same orientation.

The
Start Menu of the remote PC is more accessible than ever.

One
glitch, however, is when switching from landscape to portrait once already
connected to a remote PC. Although the window changes orientation, the
session is left in landscape. This is probably a limitation of the remote
desktop protocols in Windows XP, it probably establishes a screen resolution
from the beginning of the session and does not allow change.

For
those concerned about incompatibility issues, the Belkin GPS
Navigation System software switches beautifully to and from
landscape orientation on the fly.

For
those concerned about incompatibility issues, the Belkin GPS
Navigation System software switches beautifully to and from
landscape orientation on the fly.

Both
AOL Instant Messenger (top) and Laridian’s PocketBible (bottom) handle
themselves nicely in landscape mode. That is surprising considering
the version of Instant Messenger I’m using was originally designed for
the original release of Pocket PC (2000).

After
a bit of re-arranging on screen, Windows Media Player does just fine
in the new orientation.

In
Windows Mobile 2003: SE, Transcriber has been updated. There is now
a toolbar on the bottom of the screen which allows the user to select
which direction they will be writing from, a button for training, a
mini-keyboard (with symbols and numbers), and common keystrokes like
return, space & arrow keys.

Pictures
is still included with new Pocket PCs, and it makes photo viewing much
easier when in landscape.

Windows
Mobile 2003: SE supports higher processor speeds. The unit tested was
running at 624 Mhz.

Something
I found very useful was the ability to assign the <Rotate Screen>
command to a hardware button. I replaced the Dell Axim Home button,
and haven’t looked back.

Microsoft
has included two Today themes compatible with various resolutions
and orientations, Windows Default (shown above) and
Bliss.

Microsoft
has included two Today themes compatible with various resolutions
and orientations, Windows Default (shown above) and
Bliss.

Older
Today Themes display correctly in portrait mode, but don’t look quite
right when switched to landscape.

Users
may appreciate the updated icon set found in this release of Windows
Mobile.

FINAL
THOUGHTS

   Am I excited about Windows Mobile 2003: Second
Edition? I sure am! I’m just hitting the tip of the iceberg with some
of its new functionality. I’m sure that once OEMs start pushing out
devices with higher resolution screens, we’ll really begin to see this
operating system’s true colors. As with any release, there are still
plenty of features and options that I would like to see added, but this
is certainly yet another step in the right direction.

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About The Author
Derek Snyder