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Year of the 5th

C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2005-01-01 11:44 AM
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H/PC Oracle

United Kingdom
For well over a good half of the planet, it is now the New Year. Having said farewell to 2004 here in London not all that long ago a moment of reflection for everything that has happened over the last twelve months seems appropriate.

2004 in many respects was the mile stone between the past and the present for the Handheld PC. We said our fond goodbyes to the last production units of Handheld PC 2000, and some of us looked towards the hybridised incarnations of CE4 and the first CE 4.2 devices to appear on the market. The March arrival of the MobilePro 900C being one.

In the community, Handheld Addict has been redesigned and continues to go from strength to strength, providing user thoughts and opinions on anything Handheld. Handheld Attitude has been with us two years and has expanded into the most organised and extensive software repository on the web for any of the Windows CE communities, and best of all it's 100% H/PC!
Handheld Underground has stretched its legs over the course of the year, and now has a new home and ever increasing stocks of mobile entertainment formatted for the Handheld...

Meanwhile here on HPC:Factor we have seen an extra ordinary level of growth, unprecedented in our history. We are seeing record visitors to the site combined with that continued sense of camaraderie and community that exists here in the world of the H/PC. Four years in the making. The HCL v3 has been a run away success, far exceeding our expectations. The CESD has continued to grow as the largest and most comprehensive technical repository on the web covering all CE generations. Despite being repeatedly wracked by hurricane outages throughout the end of Summer and the Autumn. The site has developed new levels of autonomy and ways for your, the user to interact... and then there are the forums.

To have regained the user forums here on the site has been such a phenomenal experience. In just a few short months that repository has nearly equalled the volume of our previous forum back as S|HPC. User registration is steady and the people that we see on there day in, day out are as passionate about the H/PC as we are.

2004 has also seen some achievements from Handheld software developers.
Earlier in December Odyssey Computing returned to development to continue their Pocket On Schedule application suite. On Schedule's significance is an important one. It is the only fully fledged rival to Pocket Outlook, and a true blessing to the native PIM challenged CE4 devices.

On the 9th of June, after some deliberations. SoftMaker officially released PlanMaker. From the middle of 2003 when we first heard of the proposals for PlanMaker it was clear that a Handheld PC release was going to be very uncertain. PlanMaker on the Handheld PC almost didn't happen. How close things were for SoftMAker not relasing a H/PC build is reflected in the lack of Super-H builds, which proved to difficult to compile for.
Luckily, the team at PlanMaker announced the news that the community had been waiting for. There would be a H/PC release for MIPS, StrongARM and XScale.
SoftMaker has become one of Windows CE's most prestigious developers in this time. They play active parts in all aspects of the Windows CE community and time and time again have proven a true asset - especially when it comes to their love of dropping their prices at the mere hint of a celebration!

In July PDA users began waking up to the security threat posed by the proliferation of the 'connected' PDA. A taste of things to come was the anti-virus companies response. As a prototype WinCE-ARM worm was set loose on the Internet. Alerting infected users to its presence, WinCE/Dust.A showed us how vulnerable some of our most important data really is to malicious exploitation.
Like the transition of the virus threat form the humble floppy disk, onto Email and the Internet. The focus has now moved from parasitic threats that can be proxied through to your PC. To the PDA itself.

Microsoft have also played a small part in the years news.
In January, Microsoft research returned our sanity by fixing the long standing MSN Messenger lock-down issues in Portrait. After the IM security lock down in 2003, both Yahoo and Microsoft closed down their systems to unsecured third party clients. Including their own MSR Portrait IM and communications client.
In April, continuing the ActiveSync line. ActiveSync 3.7.1 was released to provide additional bug fixes over the Office 2003 compatible ActiveSync 3.7.
More subtly, and with great significance for the community. Microsoft dropped some of the most rigid hardware requirements for Windows Mobile licensing. From this year devices were no longer required to carry 320x240 pixel screens, could be arbitrary resolutions and could include a keyboard device of some description if needed.
This decision paved the way for the first VGA Pocket PC device to be released. Or, in other words. A VGA sub-note H/PC flipped on its side.

So what lies in the future. If 2004 was known as the year when Windows CE 4 came into its own, with the release of CE 4.2 and the Windows Mobile platform. In 2005 we are going to be seeing a lot more of Windows Macallan, now Windows CE 5.
CE 5 further expands the scope of the embedded OS, combining improvements in hardware support, connectivity and multimedia to further raise the bar for what an embedded operating system is capable of providing.
While we may have seen the last of the true Handheld PC specification devices in the shape of the MobilePro 900C, Handheld and Tablet PC devices will continue to crop up in the design bureau's of OEM developer.
2005 is open to the idea of expanding the Handheld PC once again back into the consumer mindset. With no licensing restrictions and an increasing awareness amongst developers that QVGA's do not and cannot satisfy the needs of all users. It is highly likely that the fine line between ultra portable laptop and H/PC will become even thinner. Allowing for a new generation, new specification of devices to emerge.

What ever lies in store for the community over the coming 12 months, it is certain that we will be here playing our part and reporting the issues.

Happy New Year
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