Why Pocket PCs Don’t Let Users Close Applications

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One of the things that bugs many Pocket PC users is that their device doesn’t let them easily close applications. A recent post on the Windows Mobile Team Blog gives Microsoft’s reasons for this.

In this, team member Mike Calligaro said, “our philosophical reason for not closing apps was the belief that users shouldn’t need to manage their memory.”

X Doesn’t Mark the Spot

As Calligaro explained, in the early days of the creation of the Pocket PC operating system, developers needed a way to let users tell their device, “I’m done with this.  Make it go away.”

They picked a button with an X on it, because people were familiar with that from the desktop version of Windows. However, as everyone should know, tapping the X on a Pocket PC doesn’t really close the application, it just puts it in the background.

The application is only shut down if the system decides later on that it needs the resources the application is using. This is because the Pocket PC is managing its own memory, so the user doesn’t have to.

A Better Tomorrow?

Any long-time Pocket PC user can probably testify that the early versions of Pocket PC didn’t handle memory management very well. Having too many applications open at once could slow the handheld to a crawl.

So a whole raft of third-party apps were released that made it easy for users to do their own memory management.

But, in his blog post, Calligaro points out that each successive generation of this operating system has done a better job at this task, and that will continue in the future.

And he also says that Microsoft has no intention of changing its policy on not having the X button close applications. It will continue to tell users that if they want to handle their own memory management, they’ll need to get a third-party application to handle this task.

 

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