Windows Mobile 6 - The First Day! (The sheer enjoyment of upgrading from WM5)

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Having patiently awaited the Windows Mobile 6 (WM6) upgrade for my AT&T 8525, I was thrilled when it was released on October 31st. As soon as I saw that the upgrade was available I was on the HTC America site and downloading it to my PC. Well, I can honestly say that this one was worth the wait!

I know there are several users out there who have bought devices loaded with Windows Mobile 6 already, so many of the features I will mention are not new to them…but many 8525 users will be upgrading at this point and may find that the new features are definite improvements over Windows Mobile 5.

First, the upgrade took very little time. I was surprised that it only took 15 minutes once it was downloaded to my PC and ready to go. I had loaded the HTC enhancement to WM5 and it took about 25 minutes to load. The download and upgrade went very smooth and trouble free.

I recommend purchasinga backup application like Sprite Backup when you decide to load WM6. Sprite Backup is upgrade compatible, so you can backup your device and applications on WM5 and then run the backup when you have upgraded your ROM. I used this program and was able to place all of my applications back on my device in one step. The added benefit is that you have a backup application at your disposal in case you ever lose all of your data. On that note, if you do backup your device, feel free to put it on your memory card, but make sure you also save a backup to a card you keep in a separate location or save it to your desktop computer. If you loose your device and the card is in it, you just lost your only backup if you didn’t save the extra copy.

The User Interface (UI) has not changed enough (other than cosmetically) to confuse WM5 users, so setting up your device in its original configuration will be very easy. The Today screen looks much better and the user will have the ability to add Windows Live and Windows Live Search to the Today lineup. The Windows Live addition gives you access to your Live Messenger at a glance or tap and features arrows that let you scroll through three Live screens that show sync status, Live contacts that are online and a sign in screen. For Windows Live users, and online Social Networking fans, this will be a welcome addition.

I have found Live Search a handy accessory to the Today screen as it lets me throw in a quick search with a minimum of clicks. I can simply type in “Smartphone†and tap the magnifying glass to the right and it opens my internet browser to the “Live.com†mobile site, showing me results for my search automatically. It saves several taps and time when needing information quickly.

Email Improvements

One of the most advertised features of WM6 is the enhanced email support. Now users will have full HTML email on their device. Windows Mobile 5 broke the HTML chain when responding to email, but now the user will not loose the HTML format of their messages. A coworker and I tested the email format and noted no format changes were evident.

The best news is for Exchange users. Setting up “Push†email was so simple that I thought I had made a mistake and skipped steps. It was as simple as setting up my device to sync my email, calendar, contacts and tasks with Exchange. After that, all my emails were sent directly to my device as they arrived on the server. Emails download fully so I don’t have to reconnect to get the full message.

One can also run searches on the Exchange server, so any needed information is available at all times. WM6 added the ability to flag messages just like the desktop version of Outlook. Smart filtering allows you to keep the emails visible that you need, while filtering out the messages you do not need to view.

Now users can search beyond the Contacts that are on their device. I tested this feature at home and went to “Menu†and selected “Company Directory†on my device. As specified, I could search for any names kept in our company’s global address book. When you work for a sizable company, this feature makes finding phone numbers and other information extremely easy without having to download massive numbers of contacts to your device. For the information that you need to keep, you can add it directly to the contacts on your device.

The Exchange Calendar options allow you to keep better track of your schedule, and the schedule of those who are involved in your daily activities. I used my device to access information on the attendance status of all those who were scheduled for our personnel meeting. For those unable to duck into their office regularly, or for anyone who doesn’t have immediate access to their PC, this can five you a heads up on who will be present and those who cannot attend.

Another feature is the management of the Out of Office assistant. You can set up a message from your device that lets others know when you are travelling or when you are on vacation. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone out of town and forgot to set up my Out of Office message. I would have to wait until I was in a location that would allow me to connect my laptop before, but I can now manage these messages directly from my device.

My company uses Outlook quite heavily for communication, so I have thoroughly enjoyed staying fully connected via my device. So far, no one has had any idea that I am on my phone and not sitting at my desk. An added bonus with Exchange is that my email actually arrives on my phone a few seconds before it shows up on my PC. Anyone who heavily uses Exchange is going to be quite happy with all of the upgrades.

Other Changes

I am a heavy user of PowerPoint and Excel, and having the ability to view, and edit, documents is a major plus in any device I own. Instead of individual icons in the Programs menu, WM6 has Office Mobile Suite which has PowerPoint, Excel and Word under one program icon. This is handy for me because it gives me the ability to have all my Office tools included in my start menu without cutting down on the number of quick access items I can include (since it limits you to 7 items).

A couple of other items included is Internet Sharing and Windows Mobile Update. Internet sharing makes it quite easy to share an internet connection with a laptop or other computer. This update was actually included with the WM5 update that was provided by HTC a few months ago. It is standard with WM6.

Windows Mobile Update offers live updates to your device as they come. You can set it up for automatic or manual update depending upon your personal preferences.

One application that was not included that had been originally announced as part of WM6 was Remote Desktop. HTC did not include it in the upgrade, but one can still find it on the internet.

This is not an all inclusive list of improvements and changes with WM6, but these are the items I have noticed so far as I have used them. I have been one of many that have been “chomping at the bit†to get this upgrade, and it has not disappointed me so far. For the business user, WM6 represents some very welcome changes. The improvements make staying connected easier than ever before. If you have not gone to pick up the update yet, I recommend checking it out soon. Enjoy!

Nice post, Dale, and let me extend you a belated welcome to the blogger team!

I'm intrigued by WM6 but have to confess that I still use WM2003SE(!). The reasons are several: (1) my understanding is that it's faster; and (2) I think it's still correct to say that more programs are compatible with WM2003 than WM5/6.

However, using a four year old mobile OS isn't really tenable anymore (especially for a blogger with this magazine) and so I'm eager to acquire a WM6 device. My cell carrier is Verizon and I've got my sights set on the Samsung sch-i760 but don't have an extra $300 laying around at the moment. ..

I am glad you brought that up. I upgraded my wife's and noticed messenger and live search were not there. When I looked at the device info it shows a different version that I loaded when compared to hers. The newest version does not include the messenger download.

Live can still be found on the windows mobile website.

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/livesearch/default.mspx

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