Storming My Last Windows Stronghold

My first smartphone, courtesy of mobiletopsoft.comWith getting rid of my WM6 smartphones, I’m happy to say I’m now 100% Windows free! ๐Ÿ˜€

I had a two year contract with Sprint, that recently expired. Due to anger over their new contract policies, I’m not going back. I originally purchased a HTC Apache with Sprint two years ago. It had what I was looking for in a phone at the time, it could organize my data, play music, and make calls. It even had a slide out keyboard for texting. It may have been a bit bigger than most people would tolerate, but it was built solid, and was a very good phone, albeit based on Windows Mobile. ๐Ÿ˜€

the htc titan, courtesy of geardiary.com

A year and a half into my two year contract though, I brought the Apache into the Sprint store because the little 2.7mm headphone jack’s had a spotty connection. To fix this problem, they replaced my old Apache with the upgraded version, the HTC Titan. Its pretty much the exact same phone, just slimmer and slicker. Both were good phones, both did pretty much just what I wanted them to do. However, there were 4 things that I couldn’t stand about these phones.

  1. Windows Mobile. I got my Apache just as I was starting the switch to Linux full-time, and thought I could live with it. I had a Windows CE PDA (a dell Axim) that I loved back in high school. There were many things that annoyed me about Windows Mobile. For instance, you can’t easily close a program. Clicking the X in the corner just minimizes it. You have to navigate into the control panel to shut a program down. It would also lock up from time to time, requiring a hard reset, but this wasn’t an unreasonable amount. Explaining to my friends why I need to reboot my phone before I could use it was always an awkward experience. Lastly, and most importantly, as an open source advocate, it always killed me a little inside that my phone ran Windows. ๐Ÿ˜€
  2. Lock Down. Windows Mobile is a descendant of Windows CE, and both are locked down to the point you cant see straight. I didn’t mind this at first, but once I learned to code, and experienced the freedom OSS systems gave to someone who knew the machine, the limitations of the phone’s system drove me nuts. There were hacks out there to get this or that new feature, but they were always just reverse-engineered cracks of the software, so I never really bothered.
  3. Incompatiblity with Linux. Back when I took windows totally off my machines, it killed me that I could no longer sync my contacts, calendar, and tasks up with my desktop. My phone lost its usefulness as a pda when it could not hook up to my computers anymore. I know there are ways to work around this nowadays, but 2 years ago when I tried, and failed, there were no easy ways to sync it up. To rub salt in the wound, I had to buy a little SD->USB converter to continue to use my phone as my mp3 player. Smartphones are more useful when they can talk to a real computer. ๐Ÿ™‚
  4. HORRENDOUS INTERFACES. This was the worst. There are so many quirks and ugly things that Windows Mobile phones do that it deserves its own blog post. For instance when a text message showed up, it would show it to me, in tiny 10pt font, I would read it, and the notification would disappear. It would then mark the message unread, even though I already read the pop up! Worse yet, every little thing you want to do requires the stylus. You have to practice long and hard to hit the little 10x10pixel controls the phone uses. One handed, finger -based operation? No way. Text input without the slide out keyboard was slow and mildly frustrating. In order to find contacts, you either had to fuss with a 10x10px scroll bar, or use hardware buttons to slowly scroll through the list. Finding a contact that started with “M” would take forever. All in all, the interface was so bad that by the end of 2 years, it drove me crazy simply using my phone. Even the dinky little free phone AT&T gave me is nicer to use than my smartphone.

So I switched from Sprint to AT&T and dumped my Window Mobile phones. I’m using the free phone AT&T gave me until they start shipping Openmoko Freerunners! to the United States! I’m very excited to get a Linux based, open source smartphone, and am already thinking of things I can do to help out the openmoko community. They’re set to take [American] orders starting July 4th.(Celebrate American Independence Day by bringing a little freedom to your phone ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
I’m soooo happy to be 100% Windows free, and I’ll let you all know how getting the freerunner goes!! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

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