Soon Microsoft Windows Mobile Marketplace will open and the power of fart and flashlight applications will be unleashed onto us, and windows mobile powered devices world wide. Windows Mobile 6.5 will set us a blaze with gestures and multi touch, and we’ll have the coolest scrollable lists ever made for small screens. Still, while looking at the new glossy mobile UI features created with Eye Candy plug-ins for PhotoShop I wonder, how do you make money out of windows mobile as a software company or ISV? What level of enterprise support is planned into the future releases of the Windows Mobile?
As a developer and solution architect of enterprise industrial applications, mainly targeted for rugged windows mobile powered devices, I see several basic needs for improvement when it comes to support for industrialization of Windows Mobile, – Unless it’s planned life cycle is to be the OS of a fairly advanced MP3 player with phone capabilities. If so, please let us know so we can all go start our Android open source library projects sooner rather than later.
so, what’s needed?
Support for WPF
Windows.Forms is something we just have to put behind us because WPF is the only logical way to go when it comes to the future of UI development. Let us develop Windows Mobile application UI with XAML as the front end! And with the help of our up to now ignored friends “the designers” we could really start talking about usability and user friendly mobile applications. There is no reason why you should not be able to have the same features on a touch phone as you get on a Microsoft Surface device when it comes to touch and gesture support.
Mobilize your enterprise, not just minimize it down to PDA size.
The argument of disk space need to be put to a rest! Devices will have a lot more than 512k of memory or storage available, so size isn’t an issue any longer. Here’s what should be done:
- Release a basic Compact Framework containing all libraries and everything needed to run assembly libraries.
- Remove all UI code and place WinForm code in separate installer packages optional components.
- Release a subset of the desktop WPF for netcf. WPF for mobile should be able to run both as browser and desktop applications.
- Package WPF CF into separate optional library, used by and deployed with applications that need the functionality.
Security policies on the device should dictate what applications could install or not. With this separation of netcf core components and ui components developers could choose their ui layer based on own needs and requirements.
Support for Workflow Foundation
IMO, Workflow and work process support is essential for the future of an industrial platform.
I’ve tried to find any references to Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Mobile, so far – no fun. there is some questions on the topic on MSDN forums but that’s it. What seems to be the official view of Microsoft on WF for a compact framework is that “Mobile device participates in workflows, there is no need for a mobile device to host a one”.
WRONG!. If you know anything about logistics you know you need work process support. You need to be able to create workflow checkpoints, you need to be able control the order of how, when and where work orders are executed.
A compact framework subset of Workflow Foundation should be created for use and be available as an optional compact framework library.
I am working on a project with about 12 000 devices for a company solution out moving, handling and tracking about 100k packages each day – You need work flow control to get thing done and delivered. We had to invent our own look-a-like WPF/WF framework for use with industry solutions and it kicks a** as framework but, it shouldn’t be necessary to build it from the ground when it already exists something that could be a standard.
last but not least… more solid communication building blocks! we’re heading fast to “Always on” and the times of “there might be network somewhere, sometimes” is over.
As an ISV it suits me fine to have the competitive advantage of owning a custom build framework. But for the greater good of the Windows Mobile OS, basic industrial needs must be fulfilled. This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, and i think that Microsoft would benefit greatly by going it this way. With industry support and the huge number of managed code application developers around – that easily could become mobile developers, Windows Mobile could easily gain the same foothold on devices as Windows got on laptops and personal computers.