It is no longer a surprise that iPhone absolutely destroyed Windows Mobile in nearly all categories, or that Blackberry has reincarnated from their lawsuit to become the most demanded business communications solution around. It is far less surprising to those of us that actually use, or rather put up with, the dinosaur that is Windows Mobile 6. I recently got two of the latest Windows Mobile 6 phones from AT&T and just how pathetic they are for some of what I would consider the most basic of mobile functions. No messenger, no ability to customize start menus, no ability to even set a homepage. No, I am not joking. And yes, a year from now when Windows Mobile 6.1 becomes commonplace, Microsoft will claim innovation and huge leaps in the software usability (in stealing the Cardfile UI that has been provided by Samsung for over a year on i600). So frustrating.
However, this week is the MVP Summit and I’m always asked about how this and that gets done on the WM device so here are top three tricks to WM6 Standard:
Changing the homepage
If you didn’t purchase your phone directly from the manufacturer or Expansys, it was likely riddled with garbage links your carrier has put in to make Pocket Internet Explorer even more useless. I always change my homepage to Google not just because the search is terrific, but because Google will make browsing on your PocketPC a little more tollerable. You know that Cached feature where they will show you the latest cached page even if the server is down? Well, Google for Windows Mobile has a way of stripping out extra content and presenting easilly readable text on the Windows Mobile device.
Problem: You cannot change your homepage on WM6.
Solution: First, download this registry editor. Navigate to “HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\AboutURLs” and change the value of the home registry key to the URL you want your Pocket Internet Explorer to start with.
Customizing the start menu
If your carrier is anything like mine, useful WM6 applications are buried three levels deep while all the garbage you will never use is front page. If you attempt to delete it from the Start menu, you will receive a note that the file manager could not delete or move the files.
Problem: When you attempt to delete or move programs on the devices start menu your access is denied. Your phone is Application Locked.
Solution: First, you need to application unlock your WM6 device. You will need to download this software. Copy SDA_ApplicationUnlock.exe to your Windows Mobile phone and execute it. After the unlock you will be prompted to reboot your phone and will now be able to nuke carrier trash apps.
You also might want to snag Total Commander, which helps get to the areas the built in file explorer just does not seem to want to go into like \Windows\Start Menu
Aside from the basic $3 phone functionality, the only useful thing on a Windows Mobile device is Pocket Outlook. Virtually every carrier has stripped Windows Mobile 6 of the Messenger application and they all try to push you through their broken IM implementations or sell you Goodlink (which is the exact opposite of the title, neither a link nor good).
Problem: Give me Windows Live Messenger!!!!
Solution: Thank you for reading Vladville, here you go.
The overall problem
Microsoft doesn’t now, nor does it appear in the forseeable future, have a way of getting a reliable Windows Mobile experience into the hands of the potential Windows Mobile users. I have been using Windows Mobile since WindowsCE 2.1 and Cassiopedia A20. In all this time, Windows Mobile 6 is by far, uncontested, worst release of Windows Mobile ever. Although technologically superior to WindowsCE 2.1, the carrier neutering of the phone and flood of junk applications, multiple device/app/system locks, lack of software upgrades (did you know your Windows Mobile device has a Windows Update application on it?) and obvious lack of innovation by all indications make Windows Mobile.. well, neither.
I hope that the links and tips provided here make your WM experience a little less painful and you can count on me to express the above sentiment which I have been getting from many of you at the Microsoft MVP Summit next week.