In a pair of announcements that will surely disappoint many, both HP and Dell have made it clear that they will not release Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Second Edition upgrades for any current or older models.
This means the only way to get an iPAQ or Axim with the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system for handhelds is to buy one of the recently-released or upcoming models that come with it.
When Windows Mobile SE debuted in March, there were unconfirmed reports that HP would release upgrades for some of its more recent iPAQs, but at that time the company would only say that it was “evaluating the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition software update for the iPAQ Pocket PC.”
After a long delay, the evaluation period has finally come to an end. Unfortunately, the answer wasn’t the one iPAQ owners were hoping for. An official spokesperson for HP released a statement yesterday that said,
- HP is pleased to announce that it will support MS Windows Mobile 2003 SE on new products. After extensive assessments of MS Windows Mobile 2003 SE support on current products, HP has decided not to offer this upgrade on existing product platforms. However, HP will provide users with a more secure experience through the use of Wi-Fi Protected Access Support (WPA) on selected models.
HP doesn’t appear to be strongly committed to switching to Windows Mobile SE. In addition to not releasing upgrades for current and older models, leaked descriptions of upcoming iPAQs show that several of them won’t come with the latest version of the Pocket PC operating system.
This company has already begun to release the WPA updates promised by the HP spokesperson. One was released for the iPAQ h5550 in May.
Dell’s official spokesperson for the Axim Line said from the beginning that her company wasn’t going release Windows Mobile SE upgrades.
Still, a couple months ago there were signs that the company had changed its mind. A moderator on Dell’s official forums announced that the company will release Windows Mobile SE updates for some existing Axim models.
However, in a phone interview yesterday, Dell’s spokesperson reiterated her previous statement that there will be no operating system upgrades for any of the Axim X5 or Axim X3 models.
Not all companies are forgoing Windows Mobile SE upgrades. Both Toshiba and ASUS committed to releasing OS upgrades for their most recent models. The one for the Toshiba e800 is already available.
What Are You Missing?
The feature of Windows Mobile SE that many current Pocket PC owners miss most is the ability to easily switch the screen orientation. With the latest version of the operating system, users can change the screen orientation on the fly, with the push of a single button. The screen can be operated either in portrait, landscape for right-handed users, or landscape for left-handed users.
Without upgrades, Pocket PC users who want to change their screen orientation must turn to the third-party solutions that require the handheld to be reset for the change to go into effect.
There are other changes, as well. For example, the latest version of Transcriber has the ability to use shortcuts. The new version of Pocket Internet Explorer is able to force web pages into a single column, make reading web sites not formatted for handhelds easier.
However, many would not consider Windows Mobile SE a major upgrade. Microsoft has not made 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.
A Handheld OS Upgrade Primer
For those who are new to this, releasing a new handheld OS doesn’t work the same way as it does with desktops and laptops. The upgrade doesn’t come straight from Microsoft. Instead, Microsoft gives the new operating system to its licensees who customize it for their individual models and release it.
It is up to the licensee whether any upgrades are available. Many might not choose to do so for cost reasons. Modifying and releasing an operating system for an already existing handheld is an expensive proposition. In addition, Microsoft does charge its licensees for distributing a new version of Windows Mobile.