the prognosis for wm 7

sfrrr

状元
I haven't checked this for myself (which I shoukld have before posting here, I know), but areliable source on another board I frequent says Microsoft has announced that WM 7's interface will be that of the Zune, that there will be no multitasking or backwards compatibility for WM 7.

If the info is correct, seems a little dumb on microsoft['s part to force all developers to develop new versions of their software for what may be a dying OS. As well as a little dumb to force the users to uy new versions or new programs that work inside WM 7.

Also, if this is correct, it means that many of us on this board will buy their next PDA/phone/thing based on your decisions for PD. I can always find a calendar or contacts program, even if it isn't quite what I want, but I can't study Chinese without PD. Like Ruth, whither thou goest, I will go.

(And if all of this is true, I think I'm going to start to agitate for an Android version of PD. It looks like it has the best possibilities--and it's open source. I really, really don't want to have to buy an Apple product.)
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
That's only rumor at the moment, and since Microsoft have historically been absolute fanatics about backwards compatibility (witness XP Mode on Windows 7) I'm not completely inclined to believe it.

But hypothetically, if for whatever reason we were no longer able to develop for Windows Mobile, rather than immediately jump to Android I think our first reaction would be to just zero in on iPhone for a while; get that to a really nice, stable, refined place before considering a jump to another mobile platform. Since almost any other platform besides iPhone/iPad/WM6/desktops would require a total rewrite, splitting our nice cross-platform code base into two different ones that would then have to be separately maintained (so every time we add a new feature to one we have to go in and add it again to the other one), we wouldn't want to be in a situation where we'd finish a port of Pleco to some new platform and then immediately have to turn around and start making lots of changes to it.

So a future port of Pleco to a new OS would probably take the form of a single release, a few minor bug-fix updates, and a long wait for any more feature improvements etc beyond those; we'd decide what new features to add, add them on just one platform in a major update, refine their design / implementation over a few minor updates on that platform, and only once we were satisfied with them there would we port them to the other; save a ton of time that way. (so i.e., the prospective future Android version of Pleco you speak of would probably lag a good 6 months or so feature-wise behind iPhone even once it was released)
 

sfrrr

状元
Mike--thanks for the reply. Since PD drives my decision about OS, hardware, etc, I guess I should open my mind just a bit to the iPhone. Not that I'm about to jump across the great divide. Just soften some of my bias; pay a little more attention; that sort of thing. How do you say, "The more things change, the more they stay the same" in Chinese?
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Well I don't normally recommend it, since it can cause problems with (among other things) purchasing Pleco add-ons, but in your case you might be pleasantly surprised by the size / enthusiasm of the iPhone jailbreaking community; just about any hack / system feature you were fond of on WM probably has an equivalent on iPhone now thanks to that.
 

ipsi

状元
I'm currently hoping that another rumor (I think? So hard to tell possibly-real rumors from wishful thinking) is true, which is that this 'feature' list is not, in fact, for Windows Mobile 7, but is instead for the Zune Phone / Project Pink(?), but due to the 'Chinese Whispers' effect, it's being circulated as the list for WM 7. Alternatively, another rumor which I'd be happy with is that this is the 'feature' list for WM 7 'Basic' or something, and that there will be a WM 7 Business Edition which lacks these restrictions, and is the same old WM that we all know and love.

I'm leaning towards the first one, just because if it's for a semi-new platform, then there's no backwards compatibility to break. Would it be that surprising that WM apps don't work on, say, a Zune Phone? Not really. And yes, I know Microsoft has repeatedly said there is no such thing as the Zune Phone, but hey. We're in Rumor Land, facts need not apply.

Either way, we'll find out something more definite next week at the MWC.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
The Zune Phone theory makes a lot of sense to me. I really hope they brand it differently like that, too, a "Zune Phone" that runs only XNA and Silverlight apps and is locked-down / doesn't allow sideloading / etc as those rumors suggested, plus "Windows Phone 7" which adds new finger-friendly UI controls / proper support for capacitive touchscreens / etc but can still run legacy apps until developers get around to updating them.

What I absolutely do not want is "Windows Phone 7 Media Edition" versus "Windows Phone 7 Business Edition," say - that would be typically awful Microsoft branding and would leave me with a dozen weekly emails from people who excitedly bought a new Windows Phone 7 Media Edition phone hoping to run Pleco on it only to find out that Pleco only runs on Windows Phone 7 Business Edition phones. (though I presume the latter would be able to run the former's XNA / Silverlight apps, so in theory people could develop games / media apps for both)

I just yesterday finally made the jump from Windows XP to Windows 7 (having managed to get Palm OS debugging working on the latter) and my faith in Microsoft's ability to design good UIs has been (mostly) restored, so I'm optimistic they've managed to cook up something that both doesn't suck and can run Pleco without a total rewrite. Anyway, I guess we'll find out next week.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Not exactly the same excitement we had surrounding the iPad keynote...

Microsoft hasn't released any information on development for this yet, so I won't be able to say much about prospective Pleco compatibility for it until next month when they release an SDK. If earlier rumors about it only supporting Silverlight and XNA are true, Pleco would not in fact work without extensive modifications, modifications that to be honest would be pretty unlikely to ever happen (would take longer / provide less satisfying results than just giving in and doing an Android port), but for all we know this might also run old WM apps perfectly well in some sort of "legacy mode" - just have to wait until March to find out about that, unfortunately. The UI mockups have me worried, though, it certainly doesn't look like it's likely to work with old apps.

In general, this feels to me like Microsoft is officially conceding the apps race to Apple and the customizability race to Google. It's pretty, but I don't quite know what it's supposed to be. I don't see any realistic path to this becoming a dominant mobile OS, it feels more like webOS with a bigger company behind it - polished, and with some interesting design ideas, but too late to enjoy any network effects and too limited to satisfy power user / hacker types. And without the Windows API support (and potentially easy desktop app porting) that might have attracted developers who are otherwise way too busy working on their iPhone or Android apps to care what Microsoft's doing.

So I'm kind of disappointed - I can't say anything about our plans for it until I know exactly what the development situation is like, but even if it is in fact possible to run Pleco I don't think the platform will be successful enough to make much of a difference for us; it's iPhone iPhone iPhone from here on out.
 

sfrrr

状元
mikelove said:
it's iPhone iPhone iPhone from here on out.
Oh, god. Oh, god. Oh, god.

I'll try to be positive, forward-looking, adaptable. How does the iphone app compare to the WM app at this very moment? Flashcards coming soon. As many dictionaries? As good handwriting recognition? Possible to highlight words in email, e.g, and then look them up in PD? As easy to read? I know I could probaqbly divine all this info by reading all the back posts on the iPhone, but, have pity, I have to wade into this Apple thing gradually or I'll drown.
 

mfcb

状元
mikelove said:
it's iPhone iPhone iPhone from here on out.
before i follow this, i will buy another 2 or 3 htc touch pro "backup" devices (each good for 2 or 3 years of operation) and wait at the actual pleco version until a device comes up that i WANT to buy...
 

sfrrr

状元
Yes, but if Mike isn't updating PD, you'll be missing on a lot of sweet new features.

What the !@#$ is Microsoft thinking? Giving up? Handing over the mobile space to Apple? Not very likely.
 

Sarevok

进士
mfcb said:
mikelove said:
it's iPhone iPhone iPhone from here on out.
before i follow this, i will buy another 2 or 3 htc touch pro "backup" devices (each good for 2 or 3 years of operation) and wait at the actual pleco version until a device comes up that i WANT to buy...
Same here... I hate Apple for their iPhone, hate them for the trends they started with it (keeping those ugly HW buttons at minimum is oh-so-cool, but much less practical... same goes for that good-for-nothing multi-touch), so I cannot ever possibly buy their device... out of principle...
 

goulniky

榜眼
is it worth upgrading to a HTC HD2 while they're still on WM6.5, keeping my HTC Touch HD as backup, waiting to see what happens on the iPhone or possibly Android front?
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
sfrrr - the iPhone app supports all of the dictionaries from Palm/WM except for Oxford, which we likely won't even be selling anymore on Palm/WM as of this summer (though you'll still be able to use it if you already bought it) and which would not be any more likely to show up on some other new platform like Android than it would on iPhone.

Handwriting on iPhone is delightful IMHO - demo video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZTbCME4jZA (or http://www.plecomirror.com/ipdemovid.html for people reading this who can't access YouTube) will show you how that and other things work, the multitouch bit alone is worth the switch. Highlighting words in email and looking them up in Pleco isn't even well supported in Windows Mobile 6.5, but it's not technically possible for an app to do that on iPhone, or AFAIK on Android (or webOS, or anything else) at the moment. However, you can copy a block of text from an email to the pasteboard, open up Pleco and bring it up in the document reader.

And you definitely should do some research on jailbreak apps - all sorts of lovely features like multitasking / new app launchers / native VOIP / etc can be made possible by jailbreaking, so that should help considerably in making you comfortable on iPhone.

mfcb - fair enough, by the time those phones break we may have started supporting another new mobile platform that you like better. (or offering a web-based dictionary, which would work on basically whatever smartphone you feel like using) And technically WM6.5 is still going to be around for a while, it's just not likely to get a lot of people excited anymore (see http://gizmodo.com/5472100/the-spectacular-maiming-of-windows-phone-65x).

Sarevok - understood; I've gotten a lot of anti-Apple mail since we started supporting iPhone, actually. But when we started supporting WM I got a lot of anti-Microsoft mail, and personally while I admire their technical proficiency there are a whole bunch of reasons why I can't stand Google - unless you're working with an innocuous little company like Palm you're always going to alienate some people.

goulniky - maybe, but the HD2 is sort of a weird hybrid (capacitive screen isn't ideal for text selection or handwriting input), and WM6.5 in general doesn't run Pleco quite as well in some respects as earlier versions (see my response above to sfrrr on Instant Access), so you might actually be happier sticking with a WM6.1 device.


The real question, assuming WM as we know it is in fact dead, is where do we go next - I stand by my earlier comment that at least initially we'll probably just work on polishing / refining things on iPhone (and probably also doing some work on desktops), but it seems like after that there won't really be any other C-based platforms we can develop for, so the question is whether we rewrite our code base in Java (for native Android / BlackBerry / Kindle apps) or build it into a website (which could actually keep using C for the low-level stuff, at least initially; if it runs on our server we can write it in whatever language we want).

Personally I'm inclined towards the website option - the inconvenience of requiring a network connection notwithstanding, I'd really like to be able to get out of this constant cycle of chasing after new platforms and focus on just building one really great product that runs everywhere. Even a flashcard-less Java / Android port wouldn't be out before the end of 2010 (absent a large infusion of capital / programming talent), and wouldn't be flashcard-equipped / refined / fully de-glitchified until mid-2011, and by then 4G cell networks / spectrum reallocation / WiFi-equipping of airplanes may be well on their way to making web-based mobile software comparable to native software availability-wise.

Plus I'm still worried about Android for a lot of reasons, potential incompatibility / market fragmentation chief among them (c.f. the articles circulating today about cell carriers banding together to make their own app store) - we're just a couple of greedy telco executive decisions away from Android development turning into J2ME development, i.e. rewrite-your-software-for-every-phone-model-you-want-to-run-on and vet it through 9 different carrier-specific application stores.
 
mikelove said:
So I'm kind of disappointed - I can't say anything about our plans for it until I know exactly what the development situation is like, but even if it is in fact possible to run Pleco I don't think the platform will be successful enough to make much of a difference for us; it's iPhone iPhone iPhone from here on out.
As a current and enthusiastic winmo user, I can't say as I disagree with your assessment of 7series. Remember when smartphones weren't feature phones?

I'm sorry to hear about your iphone-only path though, I wish you the best with it though. Pleco has been indispensable for me over the past few years, and I'm not sure how I'm going to manage without it. Today's announcement pretty much freezes my winmo platform spending, including a couple of dictionaries I've been lusting over for a while, since it will likely be the last winmo I ever buy. I'm still subscribed though, so if you ever come around on Android, I'll be back.

In the meantime, I hope you finally get some decent competition so someone will fill in the spaces you don't want.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Thanks. Honestly, if I thought the Chinese dictionary situation on Android would be as pathetic a year from now as it currently is we'd probably be diving right in to that in spite of my compatibility concerns - we could basically own the market - but I'm confident that by the end of 2010 there'lll be the same plethora of free or $5 "good enough" Chinese dictionaries on that that there are now on iPhone, and that makes the business case somewhat murkier.
 

sfrrr

状元
I agree about Apple products, but fluency in Chinese is the important thing to me. The PDA is just a tool to get me there. If the Crescent wrench i'm used to isn't made anymore, I'll buy some other brand, even if it's a ratchet wrench and I have to learn how to use it anew. (If I weren't in such a hurry, I'd erase than metaphor. Sorry 'bout that.)

And, so far, only PlecoDict is "good enough." I tried the small Chinese dictionaries before PD came along, and I'd never go back.
 
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