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April 2, 2008

Experiencing the goodness that is Windows Mobile 6.1

Yesterday, our friends on the Windows Mobile Team have announced Windows Mobile 6.1 at CTIA Wireless 2008 in Las Vegas. Windows Mobile Program Manager Mel Sampat made the announcement on the Windows Mobile Team Blog which also includes information on devices and carriers that will get upgrades to Windows Mobile 6.1. Keep your eyes on their blog for more Windows Mobile 6.1 information in the near future. You can also watch Microsoft President of Entertainment and Devices Division Robbie Bach’s CTIA Keynote from CTIA Wireless 2008 by clicking here!

I’ve had the pleasure of running around with Windows Mobile 6.1 on my Samsung BlackJack II for the last few weeks and would like to share some notable improvements and new features I’ve taken notice of with you.

The first thing I took notice of with Windows Mobile 6.1 was the new Home Screen. The Home Screen has been redesigned to accommodate easier navigation with “tiles”. This is pretty much my most favorite feature and improvement in Windows Mobile 6.1.

Windows Mobile 6.1 Home Screen Demo

By default, I had tiles for my clock, communications (missed calls, emails, etc), Appointments, and Settings. I can scroll up or down on my BlackJack II to access different tiles and when I’m on a specific tile – I can then navigate left or right to access different parts of that tile.


As you see in the above screenshots – I can navigate to both my Hotmail and Outlook email in the same tile. I’m calling the tile my communications tile because it essentially handles all my communications like missed calls, voicemails, text messages and email – not an official name by any means. When this tile isn’t selected, the UI is designed to display everything in a single line. That means at quick glance I can always see how many emails, voicemails and text messages I have.

The Settings tile allowed me to quickly change my ringtone or background as well as quickly access Wireless Manager. It also showcases the brand new Task Manager in Windows Mobile 6.1.

The new Task Manager allows me to quickly stop apps I have running on my phone to clear up some memory. The new Task Manager is slick but honestly – I’ve not used it much.

 However I can tell you about another feature I do use quite a bit: threaded SMS messaging.

This is awesome especially when sending text messages back and forth to the same person.

So what else is there? I’ve experienced improved performance and battery life after going to Windows Mobile 6.1. I could definitely feel a performance change after going from Windows Mobile 6 to 6.1 which is great.

Windows Mobile 6.1 also comes with improved Windows Live for Windows Mobile integration. Matter a fact, as you saw in the video above – there is a specific tile for Windows Live. This tile displays your Messenger display picture and personal status message. Your Hotmail isn’t the only thing that gets synced – your Windows Live Contacts are synced to your phone as well. I rely on the close Windows Live integration extensively. I’m going to talk about Windows Live on Windows Mobile and syncing my Windows Live stuff to my Windows Mobile phone more in-depth in a later post.

Overall, I find Windows Mobile 6.1 an exciting release. It has certainly improved my mobile device experience. Windows Mobile 6.1 devices should work just fine with Windows Mobile Device Center. I use Windows Mobile Device Center quite a bit to get photos of my Windows Mobile phone into Windows Live Photo Gallery or to throw a song or two on to my phone. You can download Windows Mobile Device Center 6.1 for Windows Vista here.

Another announcement that happened at CTIA Wireless 2008 is that a new version of Live Search for Windows Mobile is on its way. Phil Holden, a Director here at Microsoft that works on the marketing group responsible for the Live Services on Windows Mobile (such as Live Search), has a detailed blog post explaining the new things we can expect in the upcoming new release of Live Search for Windows Mobile. Some of the new features coming in the new release is the ability to map your contacts using Live Search Maps, access your Live Search Maps Collections, and Weather. I use the current version of Live Search Maps for Windows Mobile on my phone today and love it. It helps me quite a bit – especially in regards to traveling and tracking traffic with Live Search Maps.