Is There Going To Be a Windows Mobile 2004?

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There’s no doubt that Microsoft is going to release a very significant upgrade to Windows Mobile this year. However, it isn’t known exactly how this is going to be presented.

At Microsoft’s Professional Development Conference in October, a presenter in one session mentioned the need for Pocket PC developers to add support for VGA (640 by 480 pixels) to their applications. He also said there will be support for both portrait and landscape modes added to the operating system.

In addition, the version of this operating system for smart phones will get support for QVGA (320 by 240 pixels), the resolution used by almost all Pocket PCs now.

Microsoft spokespeople are quite willing to talk about these changes, and will even point out that the Motorola MPx, which was announced late last month, will use a new version of Windows Mobile to switch between portrait and landscape on the fly.

What they aren’t willing to talk about is what this upgrade will be called.

Not the Name We Expected

Originally, it was assumed this would be called Windows Mobile 2004. The company has never before made such a significant change without reflecting it in the name of the operating system.

However, there is mounting evidence to support a belief that these changes will instead take the form of an update to Windows Mobile 2003.

For a while, DeveloperOne had a note on its web page for Agenda Fusion that an upcoming version “supports coming Pocket PC 2003 update for dynamic Landscape mode and more.”

In addition, unnamed sources have confirmed that several licensees are expecting an update for Windows Mobile 2003, not a whole new version of the operating system.

As recently as January, one licensee stated on its internal roadmap of upcoming products that handhelds to be released this summer would run Windows Mobile 2004. However, all the recent talk within this licensee has been about a Windows Mobile 2003 update.

Why the Name Change?

Considering that this name change hasn’t been confirmed by Microsoft, naturally no explanation for it has been given.

However, it’s only human nature to speculate. The theory that has come up most often is this will help control consumers’ expectations for the update. Though adding higher-resolution screens and dynamic switching of screen orientation are very significant improvements, there has been no hint that Microsoft is going to make the myriad of other changes to the operating system people have been hoping for, like the ability to easily shut down running applications or an improved version of Pocket Office. People might be upset if these changes aren’t made to something called Windows Mobile 2004, but not if they were left out of an update to Windows Mobile 2003.

More Info Coming Soon

Exactly what the future holds for this operating system probably won’t be a mystery for much longer. Microsoft Mobile DevCon 2004 kicks off March 23 and the improvements to Windows Mobile will be a major subject of discussion.

For example, a session called “Developing Screen Orientation-Aware Applications for Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs” will show developers how to “take your existing application and prepare it to be orientation aware for portrait, landscape and square devices.”

There will even be an opportunity to find out what’s coming next. Another session, called “Windows Mobile Development Platform Futures,” invites attendees to come learn “what’s after high resolution and landscape devices”.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this article.

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