The story is that the Motorola handwriting recognizer we use on Palm is unavailable on Pocket PC, and we haven't been able to license another one under favorable terms, so the current plan is that we'll go ahead and develop our own handwriting recognizer (for both Palm and Pocket PC) after we finish PlecoDict for Palm. It'll support something like 20,000 characters and be specifically tailored for people learning Chinese, so it should be a nice improvement over the current system (though we'll probably continue offering both on Palm for a while, since the current one is also excellent). Once we develop that recognizer (likely available in a PlecoDict update on Palm next fall) we then plan to create a Pocket PC port, and hopefully that will be available around Christmas.
So it's still a long way off but should be well worth the wait.
Now bear in mind that none of this is written in stone and that we still may change our minds and drop the Pocket PC port idea altogether. As a matter of business philosophy I tend to feel that our time is best spent developing innovative new products rather than tediously porting old ones to new platforms, but at the same time this is a business and we do like making money and given the hundreds of e-mails I've gotten requesting a Pocket PC port I think that a month or two of labor to tap a potentially enormous new market is probably time well spent.
Yeah, September 1st is still it. The software is mostly done now (even the flashcards are starting to seem somewhat usable), but given my preference (detailed in another thread) for releasing as few versions as possible I think we're going to keep chipping away at bugs right up until then. Beta testing is mainly valuable for finding bugs you don't know about, and right now there are so many bugs we do know about that it's not really helpful to have more people looking for them - even if people find bugs we don't know about, they may be taken care of (or new bugs created) by the fixes for the bugs we do know about.
well sort of. I am sure the release will be well worth the wait. Is the expectation to have all of the Palm version features in the PPC version right from the start? Or are you only providing the "basic" stuff up front?
Oh it should be quite feature-complete; we're not planning to leave anything out, even in the first beta version. In fact there are even a few minor improvements, owing to Pocket PC's more robust UI capabilities - you can magnify headwords at the top of definitions (only possible within the flashcard system in the Palm version), you can select whatever font sizes you want, you can highlight multiple characters and tap a magnify button to magnify them all at the same time, there are a lot more scrollbars (including an oft-requested one in the Edit Lists screen), and since Pocket PC allows applications to run in the background, Instant Access has been replaced by a much simpler option to copy the highlighted word in the current application to PlecoDict's Input Field whenever you switch into PlecoDict (along with an option to add a quick-launch PlecoDict icon to the toolbar at the top of the screen), making it much more "instant" than it is on Palm.
Yes, unlike Palm OS Pocket PC treats SD/CF cards and internal memory exactly the same, so it's extremely easy for us to support them. In fact the current beta doesn't even require you to specify a directory for files, it searches the entire filesystem for them, so as long as the files are somewhere in your Pocket PC's internal memory or built-in file store or SD or CF card PlecoDict will find them. (this hasn't caused any significant slowdowns in our testing, but if we get a lot of complaints about startup time in the beta version we might add the option to specify a directory search list in the finished product)