SecretAgent Mobile

SecretAgent Mobile Closing Thoughs

Last updated on: 6/19/2012 12:59 PM 
Created on: 3/21/2014 2:18 PM 

Developing on the Pocket PC has ups and downs.  A good positive note is that the operating system itself (Windows CE) is so new that it is actually done right.  It is a Unicode only system so it has internationalization built into it.  It have only the required kernel functions built into it so the OS can occupy as little space as possible.  Most importantly each API call is fast and efficient. 

The items that gave me the most grief was trying to debug on the device.  On newer machines debugging appears to be much easier but when I worked on the application stepping into functions was painful.  The debugger on the desktop machine needed to communicate with a remote process on the device and this communication at times was slow.  The reason so much debugging was required is while the operating system was well implemented the port of Microsoft Foundation Classes is full of bugs.  There are many classes in which I needed to subclass the MFC class and re-implement the functions to behave properly.

After all this hard work the future of this particular product isn't that bright.  Hand held devices don't appear to be the rage that the once were pictured as being.  The devices seem to be used in more application specific rollouts such as inventory applications and GPS applications.  The software that is designed for the devices is still limited.  The standard device comes with stripped down versions of Outlook, Word and Excel.  Our company was invited to participate in a competition for the best Pocket PC applications being brought to market.  The winning software application was a student academic progress tracker that allowed students to keep track of grades, homework assignments and courses registered for (mainly college level.)  I find some humor in that as I was probably the only student in my classes that had access to a Pocket PC device and would at times bring it with me.  There was a point in which I used the task list and calendar features heavily.

Talking to some colleagues of mine we all seem to agree that having these devices isn't going to be necessary unless there is more software that makes them the must have items.  Right now cell phones have the consumer market because the perform the communication and in many cases the calendar and messaging functions people need to keep in touch.  The fact that cell phones are always on the network helps while Pocket PC devices are stand alone devices unless connected to a WAP or host desktop/notebook computer.

For me personally I don't think I am going to abandon the notion of working on other Pocket PC applications.  I'm just not sure what the direction the market wants to go in with them.  Microsoft isn't giving up as they continue to improve the operating system adding new features which are in fact cool.  I also notice Microsoft is merging the hardware designs from the traditional PDA with that of modern cell phones so maybe in a year or two they might be the craze again.  In the mean time I see the devices being used primarily for specific applications where there is a lot of "field" work in which a simple, small computing device will provide enough functionality to get through the tasks.


SecretAgent Mobile

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