Microsoft has been talking about the next version of Windows Mobile, code-named Magneto, since shortly after the last version came out.
Last fall, for example, Microsoft Germany posted a number of details, with screenshots, of this upcoming operating system version.
Recently, however, a beta version of Magneto leaked out, and pocketnow.com has put together an overview of it.
This version of the operating system, which is expected to be called Windows Mobile 2005, will have a number of significant changes from the current one.
The Pocket PC version will have two buttons at the bottom of almost every screen. Exactly what these do depends on the application currently running. In the Today screen, these will be Home and Contacts. The user also has the option of reassigning these.
These buttons can be tapped on with the stylus, but upcoming devices that are expected to run Windows Mobile 2005, like the HTC Universal, appear to have two hardware buttons that will perform the same function.
Many new features have been added to the Windows Mobile 2005 versions of the Microsoft Office applications.
Curiously, Microsoft has changed all their names. Windows Mobile 2005 will come with Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, and -- for the first time -- PowerPoint Mobile.
The ability to view tables will be added to Word Mobile, but these can't be created on the handheld. This application will also get support for numbered lists.
Excel Mobile will finally acquire the ability to create and display many different types of charts and graphs.
PowerPoint Mobile will allow users to display, but not create, PowerPoint files.
The Windows Mobile version of Internet Explorer will receive several improvements.
In a change that many will welcome, a full screen mode will be added, although pocketnow.com points out that it's difficult to get the device back out of this mode.
It will also get support for Security Zones, like the desktop version already has.
The Windows Mobile version of Outlook will get several interface improvements that will make writing emails easier.
One of the most significant changes to Windows Mobile 2005 is one many users might not even notice.
Currently, Pocket PCs use RAM for both Storage and to hold currently running applications. In the upcoming version, RAM will only be used for running applications. Flash ROM is where all application and file Storage will happen.
Windows Mobile 2005 will absolutely require ActiveSync 4, which will presumably be released at about the same time as the new operating system version.
This will, for the first time, allow users to control how Media Player files are synchronized.
Almost every application, control panel, and dialog box in the operating system will be tweaked in some way.
For example, Contacts will be able to synchronize photos with Microsoft Outlook 2003, the user interface for the phone dialing application has been improved, the Bluetooth control panel lets users create real Bluetooth COM ports, and so on.
Magneto/Windows Mobile 2005 is expected to be released this summer, along with several devices that run it.
The version of this operating system that leaked out is very much a beta, with a number of obvious bugs. For example, it is severely limited in how much RAM it supports.
Unfortunately, there is no way to know at this point which current Pocket PCs will get upgrades.
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