Handheld Operating Systems
It's gone by as many names as it has major overhauls: Windows CE, Pocket PC, Windows Embedded, Windows CE .net, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, etc. Microsoft always seemed like such a "safe" choice, so it's no surprise that some hapless companies entering the mobile market have used Microsoft's operating system. But despite some early success based on the assumption that "Windows" mobiles would be more "Windows-compatible" than the alternatives, its market share has faltered. With a handful of really powerful alternatives now available, and Microsoft fumbling to maintain backward compatibility while radically changing the interface for Windows Mobile, it has become something of an also-ran in an increasingly competitive industry.
close match high quality challenge MS Google's Android is similar to Windows Mobile in the sense that Google is producing the software, and letting other companies produce their own hardware. What's very different is the fact that they're developing and publishing that software as open source, so anyone who wants can use it, and customize it. That also makes it easy to develop applications for it.
close match high quality challenge MS iOS has been something of a revolution in the handheld market. The iPhone, iPad, etc. run a slimmed down version of the Mac operating system with an elegant user interface based on multi-touch technology. There's a wealth of inexpensive software available for them. Oh, and by the way, you can also play music and videos on them, and the iPhone can make phone calls as well.
close match high quality challenge MS HP/Palm's new webOS has revitalized the company's prospects, leapfrogging from the somewhat old-school design of their old OS to become one of the hot new platforms. PalmOS was remarkable for surviving the introduction of Windows Mobile; usually when Microsoft tries to take over a market, they steamroll the pioneers who blazed the trail. WebOS has the potential to join the others in putting WinMobile out to pasture.
close match high quality challenge MS RIM BlackBerry users have often used the phrase "cold, dead fingers" when describing the situation in which they'd give up their "crackberry". RIM's key innovation was the Blackberry's always-on secure wireless e-mail capability, which RIM has gone to great legal lengths to maintain.
close match high quality challenge MS Symbian OS is a rock-solid, multi-tasking graphical operating system, designed for pocketable devices, with a long history in the European market. It was the OS of choice for the first wave of high-end mobile phones, especially those from Nokia which now owns the company. Symbian devices can include PDA-style applications, wireless web browsing and e-mail, wireless gaming, Java, and more.
low price Or adopt an orphan. The current crop of mobile devices aren't the first; they're just the first to find a large enough market ready to use them. Many of the earlier ones had pretty good features, and since they're now considered "obsolete", they should be fairly easy and inexpensive to pick up second-hand. The fairly recent Sharp Wizard and Psion Series 3 and Revo/Mako/Series5 line were (and still are) quite useful. The original "PDA" was the Apple Newton, with handwriting recognition. It got off to a shaky start, but was improving dramatically when Apple changed strategy and dropped it. The Poqet PC was a real DOS PC with a real keyboard and PCMCIA storage, in a case smaller than a VHS cassette, that ran for months on AA cells. HP's LX computers were small, DOS-compatible machines with a still-loyal user base. Atari made the DOS-like Portfolio. Casio's Boss wasn't bad.
challenge MS The smaller Unix-like operating systems should be able to run on any machine powerful enough to run Windows CE. With that in mind, efforts are underway to port the open-source NetBSD to run on Windows-CE-compatible hardware.
close match a close match or substitute for Microsoft's product
high quality an especially high-quality alternative
low price an inexpensive (or even free) alternative
challenge MS offers a strong challenge to Microsoft's influence
my choice my personal selection
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