I'm grateful to Engadget and Michael Gartenberg for reminding me that we've just passed the tenth anniversary of Windows Mobile. Microsoft introduced the new OS on 19 April 2000 in New York and set the scene for the PDA (personal digital assistant) for at least the next seven years, until the iPhone changed the world. Since then it's been a downward slippery path for WM, although Microsoft is now putting its efforts into Windows Phone 7 and early reports look promising.
I remember all this distinctly because I was front of the queue for one of the original Compaq iPAQs. It was a great device, I thought at the time, and the answer to my dreams of portable computing. It had a very nifty dock for the desk and it could be equipped with a variety of plastic sleeves–a bit like today's iPhone battery cases–that offered expansion facilities such as PCMCIA and Compact Flash cards.
Later models of the iPAQ including phone capabilities and was wedded to one of these for a whole year. It wasn't the most wieldy of phones, of course, but it made a good stab at doing the sort of PIM and communications tasks we now take for granted in the iPhone. But I remember it mostly for a very expensive incident when I had stowed the phone in the pannier of my motorcycle for a 200-mile trip. For some unfathomable reason vibration caused the phone repeatedly to dial the last number called. This number, unfortunately, was on the other side of Europe and I subsequently received an eye-watering phone bill. They say we live and learn….
I was loyal to Windows Mobile until two years ago when I finally gave in to pressure from the iPhone. Later PDA/phones such as the Treo 750 were a great improvement on the earlier devices, had a good keyboard and were pretty svelte. But synchronisation, particularly with Mac, was never super smooth.
The original Windows Mobile and the iPAQ, HP Jornado and Casio, represented a huge step forward in 2000. For the first time it was possible to have your office in your pocket. Now we have the whole world in our pocket.