Windows Mobile

The Windows Mobile operating system provides a more desktop-like user experience than other smartphones, adhering to the concepts of hierarchical organization with nested folders and menus. Approximately 15% of smartphones currently subscribe to a mobile plan run on the Windows Mobile platform, and Windows Mobile remains the third most popular platform for business users, commanding approximately 1/4 of the enterprise market. However, Windows Mobile market share has experienced a sharp decline over the past few years (30% between 2008 and 2009, 4% in the third quarter of 2009 alone) and it continues to drop. 1

Additionally, usage patterns for devices on the Windows Mobile platform are vastly different from those found on more consumer-driven devices. A recent dataset released by AdMob, a mobile-centric advertising network, indicates that relative to market share, Windows Mobile users make approximately 1 request to every 15 requests made from the iPhone. Android users have usage patterns similar to BlackBerry devices. The diminished prevalence of web-based browsing on Windows Mobile devices undoubtedly has roots in user requirements and preferences, but is most likely impacted by ease-of-use and other usability issues.2

Although the Windows Marketplace for Mobile has only around 1000 applications, there are 18,000 applications available for the Windows Mobile platform distributed elsewhere, according to Microsoft.3 In addition to distribution via an official channel, applications can also be distributed through several ad-hoc channels, including SMS, email and physical media, as well as via direct web download.

1 http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/networking/2009/11/13/windows-mobile-loses-nearly-a-third-of-market-share-39877964/

2 http://metrics.admob.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/AdMob-Mobile-Metrics-Feb-10.pdf

3 http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/07/windows_mobile_7.html; jsessionid=W2KHQFB3KLA2TQE1GHPSKH4ATMY32JVN

The forthcoming Windows Mobile platform has a new name: Windows Phone 7 and aims to provide a user experience better suited to mobile use patterns. Note that Windows Phone 7 will not be available as an upgrade for devices currently running Windows Mobile 6.5 and earlier operating systems. While the release of Windows Phone 7 may provide a boost to sales of Windows Mobile devices, the lack of continued support and development for legacy devices may provide the impetus for existing enterprise users to migrate to a different platform. Additionally, with the release of Windows Phone 7, ad-hoc distribution channels will no longer be available: devices running the Windows Phone 7 operating system will only run applications that have first been approved by Microsoft, and these applications will only be available via the Windows Phone Marketplace.

In addition to developing C++ and C#-based applications with the .NET Compact Framework, Windows Phone 7 will provide support for application development and game development using Silverlight and XNA, respectively. Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 and Expression Blend 4 for Windows Phone will be the primary tools used for Windows Phone 7 development. Unfortunately, Visual Studio 2010 does not support mobile application development for versions of Windows Phone prior to Windows Phone OS 7.0, so in order to develop for both devices, you will need to purchase licenses for both Visual Studio 2008 and 2010.

The focus of this chapter is Windows Mobile 6.5 Development, since that is the operating system prevalent on devices today.

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