Every time Microsoft scores a point in its tortuous quest to become a major mobile player, it seems to suffer a balancing setback. So while the recently announced updates to Windows Mobile made the OS look far more credible on a small device than it had before, the software giant had to endure its primary handset ally, Taiwan's …
HTC handsets and Linux.
There is a certain irony in this. There have already been several projects to get Linux running on HTC handsets.
These have achieved varying degrees of success with no complete version yet.
Many hit a brick wall because the specifications for the hardware are secret and HTC point blank refuse to give details. That makes it difficult to write or adapt device drivers except by major efforts reverse engineering existing code.
If they are serious about wanting Linux on their handsets they could just make the specs public and wait...
If they do go the Linux route it will be interesting to see if they follow the lead of others who purport to use Linux. They often clamp it down rigidly, make it hard or impossible to run custom kernels or programs and sometimes refuse to release source code.
One reason for that is so that minor changes and updates can be added to new phones requiring purchase of new hardware even though the old hardware could be updated just as easily.
Much of that is a GPL-violation which would be called "piracy" or "theft" in other circles. However this is free software and some major vendors feel they can rip it off with impunity.
Droping MS OS would be a mistake.
I currently own a T-Mobile MDA and think that droping Microsofts OS would be a mistake. As far as I'm concerned there are no viable alternatives. The major advantage of my phone for me is that I can easily create any application I want for it. Linux program is always a pain in the backside as is Palm OS. Plus the large expanse of freely or cheaply available software for the MS OS means that in most situations I can get what I want without having to do it myself. I really can't see HTC droping the MS OS simply because the kind of people that want PDA phones are generally the people who know that the MDA or XDA or whatever is actually a HTC.
Brand loyalty: Willing slavery, or?
"The major advantage of my phone for me is that I can easily create any application I want for it."
Oh, really? I would be interested to know what language you use to write your apps for WinCE or whatever it is.
"the large expanse of freely or cheaply available software for the MS OS means that in most situations I can get what I want without having to do it myself."
Oddly enough, that's the primary attraction of Linux-for-handsets, too. Well, that and the price point. Oh, and stability; a phone that doesn't have to be rebooted in order to make a call is nice. Then there's adherence to actual standards... I'll start again.
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
HTC NEEDS Windows Mobile
The reason HTC have been so popular isn't due to being a white label supplier to the teleco's - but because it runs Windows Mobile.
I personally use Nokia phones. I'm a massive fan of the Symbian OS and the way Nokia implement it. (Been using Nokia for around 10 years) However I wouldn't purchase a N95 or E Series device in the workplace when there is a Windows based alternative. The reason is simple. Ease of use and enterprise level managability. Why pay for a ActiveSync tool to get push email from our Exchange server when it's included free of charge on WM? Support technicians need no training to help users on WM as it so similar to a Win2k/XP box. Management and Security are much easier on a Windows Device (in particular the new WM6.0 version) due to the specific tools MS provide. And now with Vista Sync Centre ActiveSync on the desktop is no more - and sync'ing is actually a background task rather than a pain in the arse for our users.
Personally I'm firmly in the Nokia N Series camp, but in my job as Network Admin I'm happy i've made the right choice implementing a corporate policy of WM devices only for our business.
Having used an HTC device (MDA compact) for the last two years (prior to that it was a Motorola V600.. YUCK) I jumped ship back to Nokia for the first time in about 5 years (E61).
Yes there is plenty of software for the Windows Mobile etc. out there and yes the look and feel is pretty what (as an XP user) I would expect. Trouble is that a phone is a very personal thing and no matter how good the OS or supporting apps are, if it doesnt look/feel good in the palm of your hand then its not going to be as popular. The LG Chocolate has sold by the dozen simply because it looked cool, the fact that an awful lot of users complained about the touchpads sensitivity didnt stop it
The main problem is that HTC's devices appeal to the geek (yup thats me) but for most users the WM interface is a put off due to its complexity, most people I know take one look and say 'Nice but I could never understand how to use it'
The same people use computers regularly as part of their daily lives but a phone with the same (or similar) interface is too much.
I just bought an HTC
I just bought an htc device, the P3600 to be exact. It is already branded as htc, as I bought it sim free.
I used to have a Palm PDA, but that had no phone capability, and after reading the various reviews of the Treo 650 etc. I didn't feel like taking the chance. I'm glad I didn't - - -
This P3600 is lovely. Ok, it's running WM5 but I never programmed for my Sony Ericsson phone, so why bother for this one (I run linux machines mainly).
It has 3G, video calling capability, WiFi, Bluetooth 2, GPRS, and GPS, with TomTom6 software included. It also charges in less than 5 hours from flat.
The main reason I was in the market, was for mobile web access, and frankly the smart phones don't cut it. I also need to use the phone as a modem for the laptop, and so it was worth going 3G. It's a pleasure to use this device on the net, with the screen in landscape, and connected via WiFi.
And did I mention it looks lovely ? Ok, it's not the smallest device on the market, but to get the screen size, you need a certain minimum area. In fact it feels smaller than it looks from the pictures, around the same height as a Sony Ericsson K800i, thinner than the Sony, and about 1.33 x the width.
(BTW the htc logo is more subtle in the flesh, and the rear camera is dark graphite coloured not shiny as in the pictures)
Ok, advert over, have a look at the pictures and see what I mean. This is a PDA with phone capability, not a toy ^H^H^H smartphone !
(and I've not had to "reboot" at all Morely Dotes)
Go HTC, more choice can only be good, and this was a good choice.
Diversity is the spice of life
"Oh, really? I would be interested to know what language you use to write your apps for WinCE or whatever it is."
I use .NET.
"Oddly enough, that's the primary attraction of Linux-for-handsets, too. Well, that and the price point. Oh, and stability; a phone that doesn't have to be rebooted in order to make a call is nice. Then there's adherence to actual standards... I'll start again."
Really? I've never come across that much actual useful linux pda software.
Anyway what HTC and other manufactures should do is make the OS an option. Then we can each choose the OS that suits our needs.
HTC is not dropping Windows, but just looking around... and found Google looking around for a phone manufacturer...
So wait and see...
Widening their options
I think this is a good move by HTC as the MS smartphone market is too small for a fast growing company like it. Linux is growing faster than Windows mobile worldwide and the company should have the option of exploiting that market too.
In addition, I do a lot of pervasive Java development (including mobile) using Java ME and I could care less what the OS is since most mobile OS (Linux/Symbian/Windows/Blackberry, etc) can run Java apps, but in the desktop and server world, MS is hostile to Java and so I tend to be hostile towards it in the mobile world too.