Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Microsoft's improved Windows Mobile 5.0 will boost applications choice for users

ComputerWeekly looks at Microsoft's attempts to establish Windows Mobile 5.0 as the platform of choice for enterprise mobility. According to the article, Windows Mobile 5.0 "attracts far more developers than any rival mobile operating system" with "more than 10,000 developers ...currently working on applications."

Nick Jones,at Gartner said, "Every device using Windows Mobile 5.0 has the same interfaces, but that is absolutely not the case with other operating systems, such as Symbian."

The article discusses some of the reasons Windows Mobile is easy to develop for. Jones said, "One of the great strengths of Windows Mobile is that it has a single owner in Microsoft. Therefore it is a relatively consistent platform, even when devices are produced by different manufacturers. Although it is being forced to support greater diversity of devices, we expect Mobile to remain far more consistent and backward compatible than the Java operating system."

According to Gartner, the alternative programming environment for mobile applications is Java 2 Platform Micro Edition (J2ME), and the firm warns enterprise users that

J2ME is functionally far weaker than a Windows Mobile platform. This is because it has a big consumer focus, which means it is missing many enterprise features, such as a file system, an embedded database, management and security services, and middleware functions. Also, Gartner pointed out that J2ME, by design, does not support access to device-specific hardware features. The second drawback is that J2ME is a client-side platform, so it must be combined with server-side products, which may be proprietary. Gartner said users may need to buy server-side products from companies such as IBM or Oracle to provide a more complete enterprise platform.
The article mentions the Blackberry from Research in Motion as another alternative. Jones said, "RIM is a Java machine, so you can develop J2ME applications for RIM, but it's the brain-damaged version of Java. Also, the RIM device itself is an exceptionally limited piece of hardware."

The Symbian platform is ranked by Gartner as the third most important mobile operating system, but although it "is shipped in more mobile phones than any other operating system, most are bought by consumers rather than companies. Symbian lacks a common interface across all devices using the operating system."

As for the Palm OS, Jones at Gartner said, "The operating system is very dated and the replacement to the Palm OS is still up in the air. It's a much less sophisticated and mature operating system than its rivals."