Adventures in Alpha Phone Operating Systems

This morning, in a fit of insanity, I decided to see if there was anything to Microsoft’s claim that they are actually making mobile phone operating systems anymore.  As everyone knows, the iPhone is the current hottness, and rightly so, but Microsoft has been a player in this space for years now and I happen to like some things about their products (like, if you use them in a way they don’t like, you don’t get a brick instead of a phone).

Thanks to the hard work of people at the xda-developers website, I was able to download a cooked ROM of Windows Mobile 6.5 Alpha for the T-Mobile wing (not my normal phone) to play around with.  Cautionary Note: This is probably illegal and almost certainly not a good idea on your main phone, don’t blame me or anyone else if you get a decorative paper weight if you try it, etc.

Over the next week or so, I’ll post some of my impressions of using it.  So far, it’s QUITE good!  It’s almost like someone spent a lot of time with an iPhone and copied a bunch of ideas.  OK, so that was kind of harsh, but somewhat true… and it’s exactly what they needed to do. 

A few obvious things that were apparent right away:

  • It’s clear it’s meant to be used with your fingers, not a stylus.  Good choice! 
  • The start menu feels a lot like the iPhone apps pages. The hex grid is very intuitive, IMHO.
  • Kinetic scrolling is now supported at the OS level, so every application just works.
  • The phone dialer is a lot better.  THANK YOU, Microsoft!  Yes, this device is a phone and has to be a good phone first, regardless of what else it does well.

I’m really hoping that someone cooks up a good ROM for my HTC Touch Dual soon… the slower processor and less RAM on the T-Mobile Wing kind of sucks, but so far using the OS has more than made up for it.  We’ll see how long my SIM card stays in the Wing.  I have had a few OS crashes so far, but hey, it’s Alpha.

More to come!