Before and after: Windows Mobile 5 (left) vs. Windows Mobile 6 (right)
I’d read a few days ago that O2 would be offering a free upgrade to Windows Mobile 6 so yesterday I went in search of such delights, and lo! as it says in the good book: seek and ye will find: software update for O2 Xda Orbit only
Except, it doesn’t warn you in the Bible that if you’re trying to download the Windows Mobile 6 upgrade from the O2 website you can’t use Mozilla Firefox, it has to be Internet Explorer (or, oddly, Opera).
I spent ages entering my Xda Orbit’s serial number again and again only to be told that the serial number was wrong. I tried it again a little later in IE7 and got straight through to this page: O2 Xda upgrade page on HTC website, where I was able to download the 44.7 MB upgrade file.
Installation was thankfully very simple and straight-forward. Here’s what I did to prepare for the upgrade:
NOTE: I’ve updated the link to the download as it doesn’t appear to be available anymore; I hope that helps (and that it’s the right file as I now no longer have my Orbit) — 8 October 2011.
- Download the software upgrade (Zip, 89 MB) for O2 Xda Orbit only
- Deactivated Co-Pilot 6 using these instructions (PDF, 28 KB)
- Connect the O2 Xda Orbit to my PC and synchronize with Outlook using Windows ActiveSync 4.5 (for Windows XP or earlier — Windows Vista does its own thing).
- Run the installation file, which is called
Here’s a walk-through of the installation screens while upgrading from Windows Mobile 5 to Windows Mobile 6.
Step 1: Welcome
Not exactly a quiz this screen: just understand that this installation will wipe clean the Xda Orbit’s memory (but NOT any MicroSD card that you may have installed). That’s why it was important to sync with Outlook before the installation.
Tick the box to say that yes you want the software to purge the phone/PDA of all its sins, then click Next.
Step 2: Instructions
- Connect the PDA Phone to the USB cable.
- Establish an ActiveSync connection with your PDA Phone.
- Disable the standby and hibernation modes on the host PC.
- Make sure Main Battery has a charge greater than 50%.
If you’ve completed those steps then tick the box. The third instruction is quite important: the last thing you want to do is have your PC go into standby or hibernation midway through the upgrade.
Tick the box, click Next.
Step 3: Current ROM version
The application then checks the Xda Orbit and gives feedback on the Operating System ROM version found.
On my machine, running Windows Mobile 5 it found:
Image version: 126.96.36.199
Click the Update button
Step 4: New ROM version
Next the application tells you what OS ROM version it will upgrade you to:
Image version: 188.8.131.52
Step 5: Confirmation required
After all that information, you are now finally ready to update your Xda Orbit’s OS to Windows Mobile 6. This screen simply tells you what to expect:
- The PDA Phone is prepared for the update process.
- The progress bar is displayed on the host PC and on the PDA Phone.
- The completion screen is displayed on the host PC.
If that all sounds fine click on Next.
Step 6: Update in progress
The dialog window is now replaced with a non-closable progress bar window. (I tried to capture the shot at 45% but it was just too quick for me.) As indicated, the progress bar also appears on the Xda Orbit.
Step 7: Update complete
After a few moments the dialog window appears again indicating that the planets have aligned, there is once more a star over Bethlehem leading wise men from the east and the update to your PDA Phone’s OS has completed successfully.
My first impressions of Windows Mobile 6 (WM6) are that it appears to be running a little faster and is more responsive and stable than WM5. It feels like Windows Vista’s ‘Mini Me’, with a more pearl-like Windows logo and some tasty Web 2.0-esque gradients.
Sadly the enhancements to Office Mobile don’t appear to have been in the areas that it could have most used them. For example, I still find the Tasks application unnecessarily complicated (for different views) and limited; Calendar still doesn’t have the flexibility of Pocket Informant or indeed of the Psion Agenda application from 1999!
One new-comer to Windows Mobile 6 is the inclusion of Windows Live, which now integrates with Windows Live Messenger. But be warned: if you don’t logout of Windows Live it will not shut down and will constantly attempt to connect to the Web via GPRS which could prove to be costly.
On the whole — niggles with Windows Live aside — I’m very impressed with Windows Mobile 6. I still don’t think that Office Mobile has a patch on the Psion EPOC R5 operating system applications (found in the Psion 5mx, Revo(Plus), Psion 7 or netBook) but that’s a topic for another blog post.
As it stands I’d say a newly upgraded Xda Orbit with Windows Mobile 6 is a pretty good mobile phone. But by adding a couple of commercial applications from SPB Software House it suddenly becomes an incredibly good one:
- Spb Mobile Shell
- Spb Phone Suite