WinMo 6.5 getting even more finger-friendly?

Sure, we're not expecting to see Windows Mobile 6.5 officialy on devices for another month or two, but builds of the latest OS have been a dime a dozen for weeks now. And one trend that has emerged of late is a greater move toward being more finger-friendly. That's evident here in Build 23022, as seen at XDA Developers. [via pocketnow]

Whether this actually ends up on production devices? Well, time will tell. But it's good to see things heading the direction they are. What do you folks think?

Phil Nickinson

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

  • As finger friendly as they have made it, I don't think that WinMo 6.X will ever be able to be as finger friendly as a capacitive touch device. Microsoft had better really get on the ball with Windows Mobile 7, because it will have to be good to compete with other touch screen smartphones like the HTC Hero. Until then, Windows Mobile will continue loosing ground to Android, WebOS, and iPhone. I've really been cheering for you Windows, but Windows Mobile has really hurt itself with all the delays. 6.5 is better, but still behind its competitors, even before it launches.
  • I'm not sure why you think capacitive makes things more "figner friendly" as I have a far easier time using my fingers on my Touch Pro 2 rather than an iPhone. Futhermore, it is nice to be able to use a glove or a stylus when I want. Remember, iPhone is a phone trying to be a PDA, and WinMo is a PDA trying to be a phone. People who still need to get actual work done aren't going to be using the other platforms. Losing ground to Android? Are you serious? So far it has been a flop with everyone but the uber geeks willing to look over its many shortcomings.
  • I think the first commenter was on to something though missed the mark. What I want to see is WM 6.5 on a capacitive touch screen device. Leaving behind the technological legacy of resistive touch screens and the stylus would really be a milestone. (Does anyone know if a 6.5 build has been thrown on a capacitive touch screen device like the Hero? Now that would be interesting to see.) As to Ed's question: resistive touch screens "sense" input when enough pressure is applied to cause conductive layers in the digitizer to make contact. Because deformation is required, resistive touch screens are softer, more flexible, and more susceptible to scratches than their capacitive counterparts. They also work best when the contact area is small, like the tip of a stylus. Detection performance degrades as the contact area increases. Capacitive touch screens sense changes in the local electric field. The sensitivity of capacitive touch screens to objects with their own field is very high and not particular effected by contact area and pressure. That's good if your a finger but bad if your a stylus. With both technologies, there's still the issue of interpreting contact patches of varying dimensionality. Because they don't require deformation of layers of material, capacitive touch screens can be made more sensitive to finger contact than resistive touch screens. That's not to say that resistive touch screens aren't any good; I rarely use the stylus on my D2, though there are times I'm forced to use a finger nail or pen to get my point across. The only reason we haven't seen capacitive touch screens on WM devices is lack of a version that can be fully navigated without a stylus. WM 6.5 or 7 just might change that.
  • After using both quite often I prefer resistive. If you look at people actually using the devices you see most people who have no trouble at all with resistive without a stylus since you can use the side edge of your fingernail. I have huge hands and do this with total accuracy. Capacitive has three or four serious drawbacks. It is more costly, provides worse real world imaging in almost every case. Above someone mentioned scratches on resistive. Well how about pressure blotches, plus permanent heat damaged areas also creating blotches (as we saw on Palm Pre). Screens on capacity also crack more often.
  • Now, there is room for a combination screen that would use both technologies... However, as I stated before, capacitive just has far too many draw backs for industrial/business/heavy use. Great for the average consumer though.
  • Ed, you're totally right that Android is a flop when compared to it's main rival, the iPhone. I also liken it to it's Linux big brothers on the desktop scene where only the super uber geeks are the ones using (or should I say tinkering with) the various distro flavors. But I totally agree with his comment that as much work as MS has done with 6.5 it honestly is still not quite as finger friendly as the current touch screen leaders. Believe me, I'm also cheering for WinMo or Windows Phone to catch up, if not best the competition. MS has definitely got to bring it with WM7 or they can expect to lose more ground, if not in market share then in mind share which is critically important in today's changing tech scene :(
  • My main worry though chasing the "finger friendly" market is that WinMo will lose what made it so great. There are applications that I use that just won't work with being more "finger friendly" because they need all the pixels they can get. Ever do a lot of data entry and work with pocket excel? I don't want bigger GUI buttons cluttering that up. Same with some other functions. I'm not saying MS shouldn't work on it, so far the latest build I've used of 6.5 has had a good balance, but I just worry that with WinMo 7 that they will chase the Pre and iPhone too far into the "phone" territory, where most of the users really don't need the "smartphone," they just want it. Yes, on Android I'm not sure why they couldn't have taken Opie and put some polish on it. I believe that would have been a far better seller than this new platform. Long live the old Sharp Zaurus!!
  • I totally agree with the big GUI buttons cluttering. How is swiping your finger through a dozen pages of app buttons on an iPhone easier than going through an organized start menu with folders?
  • It's Finger-Bangin' baby! (now, where's my BlueAnt speakerphone) ;)
  • Thats all go etc but they really need to make it super smooth
  • I like what they did to the notification area, as the HTC one tends to be a bit clunky to use.
  • As much as the mindless winmo haters whine, it still runs circles around Android. The Android fans seem to believe potential means something more than the current implementations, which so far are boggy and buggy.
  • Well said. You can make the "It's going to get really good" argument all you like, but the current customer base is worried about what has the most function NOW. And as clunky as WinMo tends to be, it beats out everyone in functionality and tweakability.
  • Looks like the 6x series will end with a good bang. This is great news.
  • Those softkeys at the bottom are U-G-L-Y. I hope THAT gets fixed soon. Otherwise, not bad, not bad... I like the new tabs idea.
  • It's looking clean and simple (like the Zune). So where is the Zune connectivity?
  • Well, we'll see. Right now I'm NOT happy.
    Instead of comfortabe menus with ALL the functions diplayed, we will have the HUGE letters in those, making me SCROLL through menu?? I think that the obsession of finger friendliness of everything around is making our devices retarded. The buutons soft buttons are disgusting.
    Honestly I prefer a robust current look than his completely not unified, messy look of all styles just glued together. Probably it'll all look different a bit.
    I think that, as 6.5 is NOT bringing any major breakthrough in functionality besides look,
    I'll rather wait for 7. Which will be new all the way and bring a new hardware.
  • And I DON'T want my wqa device with great resolution,
    to display menus and letters on ALL of the screen, like on any dumb device.
  • Just please release it. This release is taking way to long. Users should be using 6.5 RIGHT now, and looking forward to windows phone 7. Everyday i see people at the verizon wireless store by my house, and maybe a few of the are buying phones on that visit. Then they should be looking at windows phone 6.5, not 6.1. C'MON !!
  • It's possible that this is just an HTC implementation designed for use on the capacitive screen device they're supposedly working on. Manufacturers are taking ever greater liberties customizing WM for their device as MS continues to disappoint. I think it's a bit early to assume that this will be standard for WM6.5.
  • The method that ROM cookers use to get the SYS, XIP, and other key components pretty much assumes that customizations from companies are stripped out. Good thought, though
  • I get the impression that MS works fairly extensively with manufacturers to customize core WM systems. Take, for example, changes we saw in builds of 6.1 related to the way the system draws the Today screen (particularly the softkeys) right around the time that HTC launched TF3D. Another example would be Toshiba's unique softkey setup on the TG01. I bet a rom dump from that device would show that those mods are built into the XIP/SYS, while other customizations like their stripes interface are in separate packages. The fact that HTC is the largest WM device manufacturer, combined with the fact that it has the largest hacking scene, tends to lead us to believe that any changes we see in HTC builds directly correlate with changes in MS' base code. I'm not convinced that's the case. Plus, wasn't 6.5 RTM'd back in May already? I could be totally wrong, but I have a hunch that not all 6.5 builds are going to have those softkeys. WM is made to accommodate a huge array of devices and form factors, and those soft keys don't work well on devices with small screens and less than 800x480 resolution. Time will tell, but definetly some interesting stuff in the works :)
  • MS is damned if they try and make changes and damned if they dont. If WM isnt for you anymore, why not go for one of the alternatives rather than continue to bash WM? Or in other words, get a life!
  • I love that WM 6.5 is getting more finger friendly, but I still think it needs a lot of work. as many have already mentioned, WM7 needs to be a completely different animal. Microsoft needs to throw everything they already do out the door and start from the very beginning like Palm did with Web OS. The reason WM has been successful is because you can use it for work, but the UI has always been an afterthought. I'm a bit surprised that a lot of the people here are ripping on Android. Yes, this is a WM blog visited by mostly WM fanboys, but Android is showing great promise. I blog about all HTC devices and have been using the G1 as main main handset since it launched. I still have a HTC Touch Pro, but I find myself grabbing my G1 a lot more, simply because the device is more fun. I'll be 100% honest, the G1 is the ugliest phone I have ever owned (HTC Magician, HTC Touch, HTC Touch Pro) but it somehow has a bit more appeal simply because of the minimalistic UI that I can customize. Microsoft needs to find a way to capture people's attention again. I'm hoping that WM will do the trick.
  • They need to hurry up and get this to market.