Celebrating the 10th birthday of Microsoft's Pocket PC

by Administrator | Apr 28, 2010

Last week marked the tenth anniversary of an operating system by Microsoft and first foray into the mobile marketplace. That operating system was Pocket PC and it represented a turning point for the Windows brand: no longer was Windows constrained to being used on PCs and bulky laptops, it could now be used on PDAs and would eventually be used on mobile phones in the form of Windows Mobile.

When it was first launched, Pocket PC had only one aim in mind: to take on and beat Palm in the emerging PDA (personal digital assistant) market.

Microsoft's plan with Pocket PC was to partner with several key hardware manufacturers and release high-end devices which would beat the Palm range on features. As such, the world was given devices like the HP Jornada series and the Casio EM500. However, there was one device which captured the imagination of more people than either of these, and it is this device that is noted as being one of the big reasons for Pocket PC's initial success. It was the Compaq iPAQ, and it was without a doubt the flagship Pocket PC device at launch.

Pocket PC also included several key features which blurred the line between mobile devices and PCs, including Windows Media Player and full Office functionality. Many have argued that their narrow focus on initially beating Palm and subsequently fighting for the corporate market against such rivals as RIM (with their trademark range of BlackBerry handhelds and later mobile phones) left Microsoft unable to capture the imaginations of consumers, thus leaving them at a crucial disadvantage in the consumer marketplace.

Pocket PC went on to then become Windows Mobile, but it still carried the same perception with it, of being first and foremost for business users. It is hard to argue against this perception as the corporate market was still Microsoft's big concern despite the best efforts of handset manufacturers such as HTC and software developers such as SPB Software, who aimed to make Windows Mobile more appealing to the consumer market.

Pocket PC

It was only with the release of two competing products that a paradigm shift in the focus of Microsoft happened. Those two products were the iPhone by Apple and the Android operating system made by Google. These two products undoubtedly forced Microsoft to reconsider their position in the mobile marketplace and to focus on the mass consumer market, which had hitherto been somewhat neglected. The result of this shift in focus is the development of Microsoft's newest mobile OS: Windows Phone 7, which aims to make Microsoft's mobile offering much more appealing to general consumers and succeed in the market in which Windows Mobile did not perform that well.

Despite this lack of focus on consumers, Windows Mobile has been responsible for powering some truly beautiful consumer-oriented mobile phones, with the undoubted highlight being this year's HTC HD2. The only downside to Windows phones is that they are very powerful, making them more expensive.

2010 marks the end of Pocket PC's tenure within the mobile marketplace. It has been seen in some exceptional mobile phones, culminating in the HTC HD2, an ultra-powerful phone which is the perfect swansong for this powerful operating system.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/

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