I've owned a handful of Palm devices since the early Palm Pilot days and I've always liked the simplicity and general reliability of the Palm OS. The Palm platform is also very big at the David Allen Company, where most of us have Treos - either the 650 or 700p.  Other than press releases, Palm's been long on promises and short on innovation with the Palm/Treo platform. (I know about the recent Linux announcement, but I'm not sure I want to wait that long...)

So, I'm thinking about getting a new smart phone. My initial motivation was to find a phone with EVDO Rev A capability to speed up my use of PDANet. My tests with the Treo 700p and EVDO found it to be a worthwhile productivity upgrade.

This an opportunity to revisit the Palm vs Windows Mobile decision. Whatever I decide, I don't want to lose the functionality I presently enjoy

I sat down tonight to make a list of things that the vendors would have me believe that I can do with a Windows Mobile device:

  • Hardware options from several vendors
  • Notes Database integration (I use iAnywhere & mNotes suites)
  • Possibly more RAM than I have on my Treo
  • Promise of more supported business applications
  • Multitasking between applications
  • GPS Integration on some models
  • Talk and use data features concurrently (some networks)
  • Pocket VPN Client for major firewalls
  • Skype IM
  • SameTime IM
  • And most important to me: EVDO Rev A.
This a pretty compelling list; the question is, "what really works?" Equally important, from a GTD perspective, which platform and features will support my use of the GTD methodology best? I know that many readers of my blog use these devices. I welcome your feedback.

Discussion/Comments (19):

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

I am also a long-time Palm user and reached the moment to look for something else. My biggest fear is that Windows Mobile devices have twice the features but only half the usability of my Palm. I don't need features, I want the right tool for the job: a good phone, a good calendar, a good task list and semo notes is all I need.

For the moment I stick with my Palm, as there is currently no device offering the same. My hopes are on Apple, but I am not sure whether I can wait for the second generation of the iPhone...

Posted at 04/18/2007 1:53:23 by Jeroen Sangers

Good question, not an easy answer ...


This is an interesting question. I myself am back on Windows Mobile since Christmas last year. Before that I used a Nokia N9500 for about a year and before that a variety of Windows Mobile and Palm devices. Now I am a happy user of the Windows Mobile based Palm 750v, it contains some Palm enhancements to the Windows Mobile OS that make life a bit more productive. Think of a dial option directly from the Today screen but also the excellent threaded SMS application that standard Windows Mobile will not have. However I still have my doubts whether or not I should have gone for the Palm 680 or indeed the 750v (see http://petsim.blogspot.com/2007/03/treo-750-or-680.html ).

Both Palm OS and Windows Mobile (WM) have their own peculiarities. I understand Palm OS is still not multi tasking while WM is clearly a Windows OS that needs its reboot every now and then. But how much multi tasking does one really do on a smartphone? As for navigating (eg with TomTom) and being on the phone it is my understanding that can still be done, also with Palm OS.

EVDO seems to be coming to the 680/750 form factor in Palm OS by the upcoming release of the Palm 755 (see http://www.engadgetmobile.com/2007/03/30/treo-755p-for-sprint-in-the-wild/ ). As I am in Europe the 750v gives me UMTS/HSDPA, an excellent speed improvement over regular GPRS. But no embedded wifi.

According to the specs required and availability of the application I should be able to run Skype on my 750, but I never tried it. For other applications there are some must have applications for me on the mobile platform:

- I use Lotus Mobile Connect to connect to the IBM intranet ( http://www.ibm.com/software/sw-lotus/products/product1.nsf/wdocs/mobileconnect ),

- Sametime 7.5 mobile works flawless too ( http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/lotus/products/instantmessaging/mobile/ ),

- then Pocket Informant is a true productivity enhancer to the standard WM calendar, contacts, tasks and notes application ( http://www.pocketinformant.com ),

- and Commontime ( http://web.commontime.com/ ) works simply as you would expect, install it, sync and you will have all data back onto your new device.

- For navigation I use TomTom ( http://www.tomtom.com ) in combination with a bluetooth GPS receiver

- and to enhance mobile life with phone profiles to allow different settings depending on the location/situation I am in I use PhoneAlarm lite by PocketMax ( http://www.pocketmax.net ).

- While traveling I use Mobimate's Worldmate Pro ( http://www.mobimate.com/ ) a lot, but also that application is available on both platforms.

In addition to that I have some applications on the 750v that are nice but not an absolute must have for me, like Google Maps and Office Mobile (hardly use it). I am currently experimenting with Deepfish, a new mobile browser from Microsoft, but can't yet get really enthusiastic about it. Also I am evaluating PocketBreeze, a Today plugin that allows you to see more of a.o. your calendar directly on the Today screen. Next to that there are unfortunately some add on applications that are needed to improve WM life, like the HSDPA hack and HTC X Button application as can be found here: http://wiki.xda-developers.com/index.php?pagename=Treo750_Utils

As by default the X does not close but minimizes an application memory usage may increase drastically, X button helps the user to really close an application. The final add on application that I installed is Wei's Softreset ( http://www.pocketgear.com/software_detail.asp?id=14504 ), unfortunately as said with a WM device you need to reboot every now and then. This application allows me to reboot without opening the MiniSD cover and pushing the reset button underneath it.

There are a lot of applications out on the net for WM, both freeware as professional applications that will cost you some dollars. The WM community knows some very enthusiastic and creative folks that post their experience on some sites like http://forum.xda-developers.com/ and also on Treocentral ( http://discussion.treocentral.com/forumdisplay.php?f=86 ) you will find a lot of information and hacks to customize your device to your needs.

What would I do the moment I had to make the choice for Palm OS or WM again today? I honestly don't know, I guess I would try to find a way to play with the 680 for some time and try as such "the other" platform risk free. As I don't have an immediate need to switch I will stay on the 750v, probably till the next great "must have" gadget comes around :-)

Good luck with your decision, I am sure you'll share it with us in a blog post.


Posted at 04/18/2007 2:37:12 by Peter Simoons

Good question, not an easy answer ...

Hi Eric, I tried to answer with this extensive comment: { Link } but I guess it was too much of a text as it was refused as a comment. So I made a separate post on my own blog. Hope it will be of use to you and looking forward to your decision and subsequent experiences with a new device.


Posted at 04/18/2007 2:53:03 by Peter Simoons

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

Have you considered an S60 platform? I'm a long time palm user looking at the new E61i from Nokia. From what I can tell, Symbian has the stability and usability of a true phone without the complexity of windows mobile. Granted, EVDO isn't an option in the US, but it does have embedded wifi so that fills the gap in a lot of cases. Looking at the slate of available software, they seem to have all of the major bases covered, although I'm admittedly unsure about the Notes database integration.

Posted at 04/18/2007 5:30:59 by Dave Windall

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

I've had 3 Windows Mobile devices, and for the most part I like the platform, although I wish Microsoft had done Windows Mobile more like Windows XP. I've never owned a Windows Mobile phone, so I can't comment on that.

There are many good productivity tools for use on the Windows Mobile platform. I've been using { Link } for more than 2 years. { Link } has a Pocket PC client that can be highly useful. I believe that there are tools to allow synchronizing with Notes, although I use Outlook myself.

Posted at 04/18/2007 6:05:36 by Eric S. Mueller

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

Switching from a Treo can be hard considering the phone qualities of most WM devices, however I think Palm really lost it's appeal especially with the introduction of WM5 and even more with version 6. The hard part if to find a device that fits your needs, the biggest problem is that you always have to sacrifice something, I always tell people the ideal PDA/smartphone doesn't exist simply because there are physical limitations, a keyboard is usefull but the screen suffers, all kinds of connectivity is useful but the batterylife will be rather annoying. The HTC Advantage is a real do-it-all but is so big that you can hardly call it a phone, I think the Toshiba G900 would be one to seriously consider. It has nearly everything you can wish for except GPS and has the new resolution of 800x480 which enables you to start a remote desktop session on a Windows client without scroll bars (this is already possible with 640x480 btw) so you can actually use all applications, whenever you are connected to your network(or through VPN). And all in all it's not that big or heavy.

{ Link }

I hope this helps a bit....

Posted at 04/18/2007 7:05:33 by Geert Schoots

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

Eric, I have no experience of palm but am a Dell Axim x51v user.

I came to Pocket PCs once WM5 gave persistant storage.

I have successfully used HotSpotVPN 1 as my VPN on the Axim (though their site instructions are a little dated and needed slight tweaking).

Personally, now Dell have finished with the Axim I would wait a little for a choice of Windows Mobile 6 devices. I feel sure they will give more options, especially in relation to things like Vista and it's new synching suite for mobile PCs.

Personally I have gone the split devices route - separate pda & phone.

Apart from my ThinkPad x60s notebook for desk type work, I carry the Axim x51v for note taking, using OneNote 2007 mobile client & also PhatNotes, using Calligrapher for handwriting recognition, (I can write more efficiently than type - especially in cramped or in a rush); I do have a Stowaway BT keyboard I can use - fits plane/train seat trays.

I use a Nokia N95 for photography (including whiteboards for OCR) and for phone/calender (though the Axim also syncs back to Outlook so all devices have my calendar).

Posted at 04/18/2007 7:42:34 by Philip Ferris

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

I'm sticking with my Treo 650. I regularly get asked to test new Windows Mobile devices and I'm always pleased to give them back. The speed of the network connections not a big deal for me as i'm rarely away from the house for more than a few hours. However I still find the Treo faster, and easier to use and I love pocket tunes and the fact that I can use the headset button as a remote control!

Posted at 04/18/2007 9:46:24 by Steve Richards

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

I've tried Windows Pocket PC devices before and found that the they were not as easy to use as the Palm OS. Maybe I didn't allow enough time. Also, at least with the Palm Pocket PC devices the screen has less resolution. From Peter Simoons comment above it appears that you have to have a lot of extra add-on applications to make it work. The reliability issue is pretty big for me too. I only reboot my Palm about once a year.

Posted at 04/18/2007 12:00:03 by Tanny O'Haley

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

Its kinda of hard since there are no Palm or WM devices currently available that support EvDO Rev A...wait a few months and you have a few to choose from. :)

The only carriers that will provide EvDO RevA is Verizon and Sprint. Both have not made any formal announcements, but rumor has it that it will be sometime in the next few months.

As someone said there is no perfect mobile phone for everyone, nor will a phone hit that sweet spot, since our needs and requirements are constantly changing and evolving.

Given your requirements I would suggest the 6800 series Pocket PC from Verizon(XV6800) and Sprint(PPC6800). Spring assisted slide-out keyboard,soft touch finish, EVDO Rev A, thinner and lighter than its predecessor 6700, 256 MB RAM and 96 MB of ROM (usable will be less depending on apps installed by carrier and user), external storage card with MiniSD, bluetooth, wifi b&g, USB, 2MP camera(which still isn't that great), can be tethered as a modem.

Thinner designs in VGA will be available from imate and ETEN, Samsung, and Toshiba. If you are looking for Terminal service applications or use of LogMeIn with out scrolling. The new WM6 RDP is very nice.

Battery life will be the thing to look out for in EvDO rev A devices as with all devices that demand more bandwidth, they also demand more battery life. This also depends on usage.

Most carriers have a 30 day trial period and you may want to to take advantage of this to see what fits your lifestyle and see if it meets your requirements.

Hope this helps. Feel free to ping me if you have any further questions.

Posted at 04/19/2007 11:15:24 by Steven Hughes

Palm is still more stable than Windows Mobile.

Eric, I use a Treo 680, since I must have GSM due to lots of int'l travel.

My experience is that what I need is a device that doesn't fail in a pinch; i.e., lock up when a call is coming in, fail to switch from navigation to an incoming call, allow me to quickly look up a phone number or address with only a couple of clicks.

WM devices fail that test.

I frequently travel with a colleague who had a Windows mobile device. We consistently found that, when we were standing on a street corner needing to quickly find the street address of our next meeting or the phone number to tell them we were running late, I always beat him on my Palm device. He finally ditched his WM device this year to switch to Palm.

I don't believe for a minute that network speed (EVDO) is more important.

I'm not sure that a PC should work like a Windows computer, but I'm positive that there is no reason why a phone should work like a Windows computer


Tom Giovanetti


Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI)


Posted at 04/20/2007 0:14:16 by Tom Giovanetti

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

At this moment, I would say: just be patient and wait 2 or 3 months. Some new devices will come out and you will be able to really compare the latest and best devices ever on the market. The HTC Kaiser, Apple iPhone, Toshiba G900 and some very interesting devices of Eten will soon be available. Build in GPS, faster processors, Windows Mobile 6, etc.

The HTC and Eten devices are in my opinion very nice, they gained a lot of experience with pocketpc's and have a very large online support group. Never neglect the online support forums, they can make a big difference in your device statisfaction.

I used to work with Palm only, but since WM5 I switched and up till now never really regretted that. All applications I used on my palm are available for WM5/WM6, and much better and many more...

Posted at 04/20/2007 10:35:53 by VOODOOS!L

Don’t forget OneNote mobile

I've been thinking about these comments plus the many emails I've received in response to this post.

I may stick with the Palm as my capture tool but I will continue to explore these options.

Meanwhile, I just realized that an additional feature on the WIndows Mobile device is that I can run OneNote Mobile 2007 as a capture tool. Might be worth a try...

Posted at 04/22/2007 20:11:22 by Eric Mack

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

Eric, I'm not sure if One Note Mobile 2007 has changed at all since the beta, but I didn't find it to be very useful. The only advantage I found was the ability to sync with your One Note 2007 database. Notes can only be entered through the stylus or an external keyboard. In the beta, there was no ability to draw or write notes. This could have changed.

Posted at 04/24/2007 6:51:55 by Eric S. Mueller

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

I use a WM Treo 700 wx and have none of the problems people state as problems with WM 5. It's rock solid in reliability and I only reset (because I want to) evey month or two. It's a great device!


Posted at 05/21/2007 5:09:56 by Dean

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

Did you make the switch? I keep looking for a hack that will let me use OneNote on my Palm, but no luck.

For the record, I really enjoy using OneNote, and if I could sync it to my pda, it would be pretty helpful.

I assume that I too will become assimilated, and make the switch to Windows Mobile. Sigh.

Posted at 07/05/2007 13:35:18 by Deb

re: Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

Deb, thanks for the prompt.

I ultimately decided not to go with Windows Mobile (for MANY reasons) abd to just upgrade my Treo to the 755p.

I'll give some though to blogging the reasons why.

Posted at 07/06/2007 10:34:37 by Eric Mack

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

Personally i have had 5 wm mobile phones from verizon all amazing@@@ including the 6800 that you rave about but they are too overly complex as david allen observes (overly built). They have too much horse power in the wrong ways.

755p is beautiful eloquent and simple and gets the job done in everyway with or without PIM addins

Posted at 06/20/2008 21:19:35 by Jason

Is it time to switch to the Windows Mobile Platform?

can i switch my imate jamin to windows 6 if yes then how?

Posted at 09/20/2009 21:33:47 by salman

Discussion for this entry is now closed.