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Open Windows, throw Mobile

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Windows Mobile device

Open Windows, throw Mobile

Today I was reminded that Windows Mobile is a disaster and switching on such a device can be a real pain.

I just wanted to check a feature on a Windows Mobile phone and retrieved the only one I have, hidden under several aging layers of lint in my bottow drawer. Battery is empty of course: I plug it into the charger, wait for a couple of minutes and switch it on. About 10 seconds later the damn thing starts making the loudest noises you could possibly imagine, mixing various alarms, emitting at full power without pausing. In a state of panic I start pushing all buttons randomly (everything that looks red), selecting menus, then pulling off the plug but nothing changes. The damn thing is still yelling at the top of its lungs and everybody in the office is converging towards me, wondering if this is a fire alarm or just a bad prank.

After twiddling with the controls for an eternity and resisting the urge to tear out the battery, the damn stuff finally stops… and starts again five minutes later. More panic, more frantic button-twiddling, and finally silence.

Looking up through the menus showed that the phone was programmed to deliver a daily alarm every day at 7.15am. The phone had not been turned on in more than a year and was dutifully delivering them all as soon as it got an opportunity to do so. I had to manually dismiss all alarms, deprogram the daily ring and switch off all sounds just to be sure this would never happen again.

Not just a question of bad software design. How could someone possibly program an alarm clock that catches up on alarms in the past? The sheer incompetence and lack of quality control that came with this software is just unbelievable.

I have to admit the phone itself looks like a joke: a tiny screen trying to faithfully reproduce a Windows XP home screen (and miserably failing at that, of course), a tiny keyboard boastering 5 switches per key in the most unconventional places, and abysmal usability in general. Typing a URL on this takes 5-15 minutes on average (for short URLs). The poor device dates from a time when it was obvious to everyone that Windows had won the war on smartphones without it ever being fought, like it had for desktops. Apple’s large R&D efforts on the iPhone showed the world that nothing replaces true engineering.

And yet the device is just 3 years old. Funny how fast things can change.

Written by nicolas314

Friday 25 February 2011 at 11:27 am