Native Windows Mobile Office 2007 support Here at last

August 3, 2007

spotted on ROM updates for the XDA Orbit and Trion

Jason has posted about O2 releasing two new updates for their XDA range both of which include Office 2007 support. I’d been hoping to see this soon and was a little puzzled that teh WM6 launch didn’t include this support from day 1 bearing in mind how close the WM6 ad EVO launches were.

interesting support is embedded in a ROM I hope this isn’t going to be the norm as it means starting all over again with customisation or splashing out on a backup app.


Surface is everywhere

June 1, 2007

Microsoft’s latest UI triumph explodes across the technosphere

this is a first significant salvo for Microsoft into tactile computing, surface based computing as they call it and it looks very very impressive. the product team must get bored of the Minority Report comparisons but that’s the most mainstream representation of the type of intuitive tactile control Surface offers.

Vids of Jeff Han’s work have been circulating for a while now but this is a real world ish application of the technology so good on you Microsoft


The Product marketing web site is here Channel 10 ( of course) offers the best no nonsense display I’ve seen and  it’s made Steve’s James‘ and even Mark’s blog  Eileen has resisted so far  oh and it’s in a few mainstream places as well.

Multi touch is really really exciting it’s a natural way to sort and control objects things,  digital scattering is a replication of the way we all like to organise images and visual influences I can see this in publishing houses really really rapily . the opportunity for collaboration that multitouch offers is immense……… but

not wanting to pour cold water on things I am a little skeptical about the interoperability of devices, the visual tagging ( probably including Microsoft’s technicolor bar codes) seems to me to be OK but bearing in mind the pain of simple WiFi ‘standard’ integration there’s a huge elephant in the room here, and all the demo’s I’ve seen are in gloomy rooms, I suspect to compensate for the projection technology in use.

I think we are a little way off realworld here yet but the future is very very exciting

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Living with the Orange SPV E650 – the story so far

May 9, 2007

what’s the Latest Orange SPV really like to live with? my comprehensive review

Having lived with the E650 for a full three weeks this is a summary of the journey so far,  overall it’s been a very positive experience.

I’m not stat hungry so I’ll be providing real world measures of performance, my perception of the way the device operates not  stopwatch statistics.

The device has been used in a real business environment, as part of an Exchange 2003 messaging system using exchange activesync so some of the snazzier features associated with Exchange 2007 are not there yet but our upgrade is imminent so hopefully the three month review will be able to include these.

I am a geek and a techie but I try to apply the mother test for ease of use – I.e. could my mother use it? – a good yardstick for the levels of technical aptitude and patience displayed by most directors :)

my most recent devices of choice have been the Orange SPV c600 a candy bar smartphone running window Mobile smartphone edition 5.0 AKU 2 and the Orange SPV m3100 a traditional PDA form factor with touch screen 3G which I wanted it for and the addition of a sliding QWERTY keyboard (which I didn’t want at the time but now love) running Windows Mobile 5.0 AKU 2.3 Pocketphone edition (for now) 

The E650 has complemented my traditional notebook for two weeks but for the last week it’s been my only contact with work as I’ve been away on Holiday (more about that in an Off-Topic later).

conventions :

Where I refer to keypad I mean the E650 standard phone alphanumeric keypad where I refer to keyboard is the slide out QWERTY keyboard


  • The Keyboard – it’s a great addition to a Windows Mobile 6 Standard device mitigates a lot of the fiddliness of the interface
  • Fetchmail – until you try it you’ll not appreciate how much of a difference something this simple makes.
  • recoverability : I’d have loved to have said stability but I’ll explain later
  • Search as you type in Pocket Outlook AND Text messages

No Lights:

  • search as you type search in Pocket Outlook  only searches on display name and subject and suffers the unfortunate keyboard glitch in text and PO
  • lack of ‘ add word’ in T9 mode (mitigated by keyboard)
  • stability seems a little suspect when battery level is low
  • no MSN messenger or Voice command (included in the SDK by Microsoft but incomprehensibly omitted by Orange (I’ve bought Voice Command 1.6 US version from Handango – again more later)



Form Factor:

e650 rest

it’s a Vox I know but the E650 skin isn’t out in MobiControl just yet

The device is a lovely piece of kit, a little heavier and bulkier than the C600 and most standard candybar format phones – way heavier and thicker than the slim Jim LGs of this world but it fits comfortably in the shirt pocket and the weight provides a reassuring feel that suggests great build quality.

The keyboard is a real surprise to people not in the know the E650 just doesn’t look like it could hide a  QWERTY in a device that size. the keyboard action is very slick only requiring a little push to expose or close the keys, much nicer than the m3100. Portrait to landscape transitions can be a bit slow occasionally but it’s no massive deal. 

The screen is great much more vibrant and clearer than either the m3100 or c600.

The phone has four hardware buttons on the periphery – on/off on  the top; the voice activation and volume rockers to the left of the screen and the camera button to the right – the camera button placement is somewhat counter intuitive as when you access the keyboard you rotate the phone clockwise which leaves the camera button on the bottom of the rotated handset if you are shooting in landscape mode – a minor gripe.

The front mounted function keys are easy to access, I was worried about the placement of the send and end keys as they look like they could be easily operated in a pocket however the E650 actually suffers less from this than the c600.

The soft keys are a little fiddly at first but you get used to that, and anyone with more slender fingers than mine wouldn’t be troubled. 

The SIM slot is hidden behind the keypad and is accessed when the keyboard is exposed and there is an external MicroSD card slot covered with a rubber shield, again a great improvement on the c600 but less vital now that MicroSD cards are Multi-Gigabyte

USB and accessory connection is via an HTC extended mini USB port – a pain in the backside tbh which is covered by another rubber flap which makes the handset unstable when stood up on its end, a minor design flaw that only grates because the rest of the device seems so well thought out.


The E650 is great to use, much zippier than the equivalent WM5 device, despite the underpowered processor (only 201 MHz). occasionally (very occasionally)  the Camera application refuses to start due to memory usage but this is down to the fact that there is no native way to end an application apart from through the task manager a disappointing feature of smartphone versions of the WM platform.

Battery life is good although the quoted 5 hours / 7 days actually equates to about 2 1/2 days realworld usage (GPRS, voice, a little WiFi)


I’ve always found the smartphone interface a little fiddly for making settings changes however the keyboard is a real bonus here – there’s no massive differences between the WM5.0 & 6 menus in this area.


I’m concentrating on the core business applications – for me that excludes the camera although the 2 Megapixel produces pictures sharp enough to annoy your coworkers when you are on holiday. 

Office Mobile in WM6 is great but is really only designed to read attachments the giveaway is that the apps start in view mode  – you could (at a push) compose on the E650 as  the keyboard makes this possible for those with thinner digits – I still hit space+n or b+space a bit too often for my liking.

Pocket Outlook tends to be the place I spend most of my time :) – Highlights are Fetchmail which is a massive productivity tool and a real encouragement to download the rest of any message, it’s that smooth. (and a nice GPRS earner for Orange)

Keypad shortcuts are fantastic


email triage is speeded up no end and this is a major use of most smartphones.

The E650 even has adobe reader LE installed so clicking on a PDF attachment allows you to read it

e650  adobe

We’re still running on Exchange 2003 SP2 in our production environment so when internal IS get Exchange 2007 sorted I’m sure Webready and HTML mail will be fantastic additions, looking forward to this.

Contacts quick search is much improved and now ignores gaps between consecutive keypresses

e650  gaps1

and the # is interpreted as a space which makes finding the actual Richard or Dave or Andy you want that much easier

e650  gaps

You at last can send a contact as a vCard however the E650 insists on sending it as an MMS rather than a text which seems odd and might affect your bill – it doesn’t work at all on my  work SIM as we disable MMS for all our staff by default.

Calendar operation is slick as well week view with appointment details is another great productivity aid 

e650  week

and the ability to add both required and optional attendees from contacts or the company directory when creating an appointment was something I always yearned for in WM5

e650  attendees

Where’s my Microsoft Voice Command Orange? and MSN messenger ?

Voice command is bundled by Microsoft and I’ve just gone out and spent £20 on it because of this omission.

No messenger is not so bad for me as we use office communicator but I can see it annoying some people – there are suggestions  that Orange’s new flat rate tariffs will exclude IM and VoIP so this might be the reasoning


overall stability is good apart from when the battery runs low when you get occasional application errors – this would have been a problem on WM5 however on the E650 the device seems to recover without a glitch and I’ve yet to lose any data at all – apart from a momentary annoyance this is much less of a problem than it has been in previous versions.

Ease of Use

The handset feels great in the hand and one handed operation is easy in phone mode, all the keys falling easily under the thumb, in landscape mode with the keyboard exposed a juggler can manage to use the E650 one handed

Missing Links

Could I get rid of my c600 at the moment? – absolutely the E650 outclasses it in every way

how about the m3100? ….. no I use TomTom navigator 5 a lot and memory map when walking neither of which are windows mobile 6 compatible. I do miss the touch screen in some apps however the E650 is rapidly weaning me off it.

Overall Assessment

I use the word slick a lot in this review that’s exactly what the E650 is, slick  very very slick.

there are a few minor niggles but they are outweighed by a factor of 10 by the improvements

Do I use the E650  more often than the equivalent WM5 devices? no

When I do use it is it faster brighter and better? sure thing 

Do I get more done? oh yes

Will Orange get this eval unit back ? NO CHANCE

the Orange E650 isn’t my perfect device but it’s not far from it. 

should you buy one – at £0 on most contracts and £165 on the Orange business price list yes you should, it’s a steal. if you are a business you’ll get that £165 back in a couple of weeks in improved productivity. 

Buy one if you can find one – after Jason’s admission – good luck :) 

[Edit : you might want to read my other earlier impressions just search here ]

[Edit: Tracy and Matt have reprinted this review over at their blog with some useful illustrative photo’s of some of the physical aspects of the E650]

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HTC announce official Windows Mobile 6 Upgrades for their range

April 20, 2007

Upgrades Will be available from June with the associated lag for operator take up  This via solopalmari (great Italian practice) HTC have announced the official upgrade policy for their range of handhelds  the statement indicates that the following HTC devices will be supported by official Windows Mobile 6  upgrades:

HTC Advantage,

HTC Tytn,  

HTC P3300

HTC P4350. 

HTC S620

Some of our operator-branded devices. that use of the word some worries me …… the official statement is as follows

Windows Mobile 6: upgrade strategy statement

Microsoft recently unveiled Windows Mobile ® 6, which offers improved usability and more PC-like functionality than previously available. Enhancements include the ability to view emails in rich HTML format, and to manage emails quickly and easily through new shortcuts and new calendar views.

The HTC S710 is one of the first Windows Mobile® 6 devices to ship, and will be followed by a range of products based on the new operating system in the coming months.

HTC is also offering WM6 upgrades for the most popular devices in its current range. This includes recently launched “messaging” products, which will enjoy the greatest benefits of Windows Mobile 6, such as the HTC Advantage, the HTC TyTN, the HTC S620, and the HTC P4350.

The upgrade will also be available for the award-winning HTC P3300, plus some of our operator-branded devices. The upgrades will be rolled out from June, in line with our operator partners’ strategies. You’ll be able to find the latest releases as they’re made available at:


Why have these devices been chosen?

We have chosen devices with a particular focus on “messaging”, where users will enjoy the greatest benefits of Windows Mobile 6 (the HTC Advantage, the HTC TyTN, the HTC S620, and the HTC P4350). The upgrade will also be available for the award-winning HTC P3300. 

Will other devices be added?

Potentially. We’re in constant discussions with our operator partners, and if they’re seeing significant demand from their customers for a specific device then we will always consider it. 

When will the upgrade be available?

The upgrades will be rolled out from April. 

I’ve heard that [operator] is not offering the upgrade. Why is that? Can their customers get the upgrade from HTC direct?

It’s really up to the operators to decide how, or indeed whether, to offer the upgrade, so you’d need to speak to them. HTC is only directly offering upgrades for its own brand devices.

Will consumers have to pay upgrade license fees?

 No – the usual licence upgrade fees are being waived.

How much of a difference will users notice with the new operating system?

Windows Mobile 6 delivers the ability to view e-mails in their original rich HTML format with live links to Web and Sharepoint® sites, which means text and images are displayed as they would be on a PC, and are available from a corporate e-mail server such as Exchange Server 2007, from Web-based accounts such as Windows Live™ Hotmail or from a myriad of other popular service providers. Windows Mobile 6 also includes Windows Live for Windows Mobile, which provides customers with a rich set of Windows Live services. For example, now through Windows Live Messenger, people can chat with more than one person at one time, express themselves through animated figures, quickly send a file or image, or record and send voice notes.  The newest version of the platform offers the most genuine Microsoft Office system experience in the mobile versions of Office Outlook®, Office Word, Office Excel® and Office PowerPoint® by bringing capabilities once available only on the PC versions of these products to the small screen. This allows users to neatly view, navigate and edit Word documents and Excel spreadsheets in their original formatting, without affecting tables, images or text, and to view PowerPoint presentations on their device. All Windows Mobile 6 powered devices include Direct Push Technology for up-to-date e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization of Outlook calendars, tasks and contacts through Microsoft Exchange Server. Windows Mobile 6 also offers a set of important device security and management features that include the capability to remotely wipe all data from a device should it be lost or stolen, helping ensure that confidential information remains that way.

as always the adoption of it on any MSP device (like my m3100) is down to the MSP themselves – here’s hoping Orange see sense, it’ll keep me and Rob happy at least

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Living with the Orange SPV E650

April 19, 2007

12 hours in and loving it

For  an objective opinion on aesthetics I ask my wife’s opinion. As a geek (note the small g)  it’s easy to get  over excited about tech for tech’s sake but her designers eye usually cuts through any perceived geek chic and gives an honest view.

her opinion of the E650:

 mmmm my contract’s up for renewal how much is it ?

difficult to get a more ringing endorsement than that so it’s a winner on the looks front :)

Performance wise it’s much quicker than the c600, none of the interesting call handling glitches (undocumented features?) of the c600 either (so far). My c600 didn’t like call waiting it always confused it and if I had a call collision e.g. I was ringing a colleague back who was simultaneously ringing me I’d get the this call cannot be completed as dialed error for half a dozen attempts afterwards – none of that so far just nice crisp call quality.

the UI is great – like Vista to XP some things have moved, never having seen a vanilla WM6 standard install before I can’t comment on whether this is an Orange rearrangement or a standard Microsoft thing.  for instance I missed the dedicated comm manager key – I like to be frugal with WLAN, because : 1, it eats battery power, 2, the notification is constantly nagging me as I move around most places I go – too many WiFi AP’s around tbh.

so no hard key but I eventually found the option accessible through the today screen just go down to WiFi status and click the action button 


to access comm manager


Organisation seems to be neater in the start menu, there are more logical groupings


address book has the familiar contacts and speed dial

organiser has  calendar,  quick notes (a text input notes app, which disappointingly doesn’t appear to sync with outlook),  tasks and voice notes behind it


quick notes does give me a chance to show predictive text in operation


although I’ve yet to find the add word option when T9 just can’t get it right.

The calendar  status bar is pretty useful – a great step up from WM5 (names obscured to protect the innocent & my employment status)


separate menu cluttering icons for the mobile office suite are abandoned for a top level  office mobile icon which leads to the familiar apps icons


all in all a much crisper menu structure, although I’d still like to be able to rearrange it to my preference, I’ve not had chance to see if this is possible yet.

the keyboard is giving me a bit of finger ache as it’s smaller than the m3100, it maintains the same comforting blue glow, I’m sure I’ll get used to it but the space bar is tiny – I’m always hitting the B key when I mean to hit the space :(


Any glitches, undocumented features ? I hear you murmur……. just one that I have experienced so far: following the install of OneNote mobile I find that if start a new note and decide to swap to landscape mode to use the keyboard  whilst the note is being created OneNote bombs but happily the E650 stays alive.

Not a single reset necessary

so far all in all it’s a great bit of kit – I am not going to want to give this one back – just need Tom Tom to get their  WM6 act together so I don’t keep getting lost :(

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Orange SPV E650 Hands on – first impressions

April 18, 2007

initial feelings about the new Orange Handset

I’d have to say I’m very impressed, the overall feel of the device is one of very high quality and the matt black finish is great – I suspect it’ll withstand a few bangs.

Call quality is spot on – much better than the c500 and better than the c600

The keyboard action is great – didn’t really get the semi automatic until I tried it – essentially you give it a little push and it does the rest – accompanied by quite an annoying tone which I will kill when I find out where it lives. the board is very usable, smaller keys than the m3100 but even so perfectly adequate even for my spade like fingers.

The screen is fantastic a good 25-30% brighter than the c600 and appears significantly bigger so big in fact I can’t stop pressing it as it really looks like it should be a touch screen. The devices are comparable in footprint although the E650 is slightly thicker, wider and weightier but still passes the shirt top pocket test

The biggest surprise so far is the expansion MicroSD slot is external and Orange have included a 128 Mbytes card in the bundle.

I’ve set up the Bluetooth PAN as suggested by Jason  however  the much vaunted WM6 is much better at juggling connections feature didn’t work, when a call was received I could take it and the PAN seemed to stay connected but I couldn’t access the Internet properly until I disconnected and reconnected the modem on the device – more of this later.

I’ve actually got a massive smile on my face – it’s a great bit of kit looking forward to putting it through it paces.

[EDIT] actually on reflection the best surprise is that when you go to install an app you have 52 Mbytes  to spare on the phone itself – a massive massive improvement on previous SPVs

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E650 has arrived

April 18, 2007

brace your selves for a review

I don’t do unboxing shots – they’re a bit lame IMO but as proof it’s here :

pic quality a bit off as I’m using my m3100 camera

it definitely is not UMTS it is EDGE though

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