January 25, 2008

BlackJack Upgrade to Windows Mobile 6 – 1st Looks

Cingular BlackjackSamsung finally released the Windows Mobile 6 upgrade for the AT&T BlackJack yesterday. Having spent a whopping 6 hours playing with it, I can say this is upgrade is well worth the trouble. If you have a BlackJack, upgrade immediately!

Upgrading your phone is a smooth process, if follow the steps Samsung lists here, with a few caveats. First, backup all your data. This upgrade will wipe your phone, so you will lose all data and installed programs. Second, make sure you have links and license keys for any software you have added to your phone. You will need these to reload your software. Third, remove your SIM card before starting the process. You risk losing data on the card if you do not. After that, the upgrade is incredibly straight forward.

There are many differences between Windows Mobile 5 & Mobile 6. The Microsoft Mobile 6 Comparison Guide highlights the main differences. The upgrade will install Mobile 6 Standard edition on your phone. This is still not as feature rich as the OS you’ll find on Windows Mobile touchscreen devices, because it is optimized for 1-handed operation. Even so, I’ve found many improvements that make the upgrade worthwhile.

Top 10 Reasons to Upgrade to WM6:

  1. Office Mobile – We finally can open and edit Word, Excel & PowerPoint files! Mobile 5 could view files with Picsel Viewer, which sucked, but Office Mobile lets you edit on the phone.
  2. Improved Internet Explorer – The new version of Mobile IE is much improved. Modern web pages now look normal! Mobile IE5 had poor support for CSS and web pages rarely ever looked right.
  3. New Instant Messenger Client – The AT&T IM client now supports AIM, Windows Live, and Yahoo! Messenger. You can also download the Skype 2.2 client here. Make sure you choose the SmartPhone version.
  4. Smartfilter – WM6 makes it easier to find messages in your inbox, using smartfilter. Simply type in the word or phase you are searching for, and the message list is filtered for you. Makes it much easier to find a message from your boss! Smartfilter also works in the new Media Player, to help you find a specific song.
  5. Company Directory – The new Company Directory feature lets you find contacts quickly from your Exchange Global Address List. In WM5, these searches could take 45 -90 seconds. In WM6, the searches seem much faster, taking 3 -5 seconds.
  6. Calendar – The updated calendar rocks! You can finally see invited attendees, and propose new times for meetings. There is also a slick ribbon interface that improves how you visualize your day. You can easily see where you have free time, and where you are triple booked.
  7. Information Rights Management – WM6 supports IRM functions, including controlling who can read or forward e-mails and documents. More importantly to me, WM6 can read IRM protected e-mails and attachments. This was a huge problem under WM5. IRM e-mails could not be read at all.
  8. Storage Card Encryption – You can automatically encrypt documents stored on your SD card, so they can only be read on your phone.
  9. MobiTV & XM Mobile – The new MobiTV and XM Radio Mobile clients make streaming audio and video over 3G useful and practical. I played with the MobiTV demo and I’m hooked. Finally, Fox News anywhere!!!
  10. Dozens of minor tweaks and improvements – I am constantly finding minor changes that improve the experience. When reading e-mail, deleting has been bound to the left-function key. This allows for 1-button deletes, which is a huge improvement. Categories now sync from Outlook to the device, rather than maintaining a separate category list on the phone. There is now a Windows Update function, for obtaining WM6 patches from Microsoft.

There are also some features that seem missing in the the Samsung WM6 image. Most notably, WM6 is supposed to support HTML formated e-mails, but in my experience, messages are still rendered as plain text. It is not clear to me if this is a limit of WM6 standard, the Samsung version of WM6, or if I am missing a configuration tweak.

It should also be noted that while it seems to take longer for WM6 to load at boot, I have not found any other performance problems. All-in-all, this is a great upgrade, even if it is a year late.

Update 01/25/2008 – HTML e-mail is working for me on my POP3 account, but not on e-mail sync’d with my corporate Exchange server. This may be a setting in Exchange that is reformatting the messages before I get them, rather than a WM6 issue. HTML e-mail for POP3 works great and renders well, using the new mobile IE engine.

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1 Comment »

  1. Brian Baker said,

    January 28, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

    Getting HTML mail from your Exchange server requires Exchange 2007, unfortunately.

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