Microsoft last week offered the first glimpes of its upcoming Pocket PC 2003 operating system at its Mobility Developer Conferences in New Orleans. However, the big story from the conference was not what did, but what didn’t happen.
Rumor has it Microsoft had intended to announce the next version of Pocket PC, which is why Bill Gates was in attendance to present the keynote speech. Unfortunately, progress on the new OS has apparently been slower than hoped and Microsoft felt it was too early to announce it at this time. However, this has not been confirmed by Microsoft.
Still, developers were provided a general overview of the next version of this OS. Pocket PC 2003, codename Ozone, will primarily be a bug-fix release for Pocket PC 2002 with few enhancements.
Developers will have access to new tools to allow them to build applications that take fuller advantage of the XScale processors found in most of today’s handhelds. However, these applications will not run under Pocket PC 2002, according to reports.
Of course, the reverse is not true, as Pocket PC 2003 will retain backward compatibility. This means that developers will be able to write apps for Pocket PC 2002 which will continue to run under Pocket PC 2003. But as mentioned earlier, Pocket PC 2003-enhanced apps won’t run under Pocket PC 2002.
Microsoft has decided to postpone adding other new features, such as voiced control, until a .NET version of Pocket PC is completed — expected in two to three years. In one session at the Mobility Developers Conference, developers were told that voice control for the Pocket PC was ready today but the corresponding APIs would need to change when the next major version of Pocket PC comes out. Developers agreed with Microsoft that delaying this feature, rather than adding it to Pocket PC 2003, was the proper course to take.
Microsoft .NET Compact Framework
Microsoft used Bill Gate’s keynote to launch the .NET Compact Framework, its technology to enable Web services on mobile devices. This allows Visual Studio .NET developers to create mobile applications for the Pocket PC platform and is the first step towards a version of Pocket PC that will be entirely based on the .NET platform.
Another Microsoft Developer Conference starts on Monday in Paris followed by events in Asia in April.
Editors Note: This article is based on second-hand reports. Attendees of the Mobility Developer Conference are encouraged to add their comments in the Brighthand Forums.