Today, exactly 10 years ago, Microsoft announced at an event in New York's Grand Central Station the immediate availability of the Pocket PC - a brand new product which set the cornerstone for today's Windows Phones. Back in 2000, Microsoft President and CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled new Pocket PC designs from hardware partners like Casio, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Symbol. More than 60 companies showcased their Pocket PC solutions in the launch Partner Pavilion and executives from TD Waterhouse Investor Services Inc. and SAP AG joined Ballmer on stage to announce how they are using the new Pocket PCs in customer scenarios.
Photos Courtesy of Pocket PC FAQ
The Windows-powered Pocket PCs (so the official name) launch - "the next-generation PDAs from Microsoft and industry partners" as Microsoft called it - was well prepared as the devices became available online and in consumer electronics and office superstores at the day of the announcement and retailed between US$ 299 to US$ 599 but were sold out immediately (especially the Compaq iPAQ H3600). Furthermore, Microsoft launched on the same day its end-user oriented website called PocketPC.com.
10 years of Pocket PC, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone history (from upper left to lower right):
- Hewlett Packard Jornada 430: A hand-made Pocket PC prototype for Microsoft internal use only
- Compaq iPAQ H3600: Maybe the Pocket PC ever
- HP Jornada 540: A strong competitor to the Compaq iPAQ
- Trium Mondo: A Pocket PC but not a Pocket PC Phone Edition but the first Pocket PC with inbuilt mobile phone
- O2 Xda: The first official Pocket PC Phone Edition - made by HTC
- HTC Diamond: A new generation of Windows Phones with a flat touchscreen
- Toshiba TG01: The first Windows Phone featuring a 1 GHz CPU
- HTC HD2: The first Windows Phone featuring a capacitive touchscreen
Not in the photo above, the Windows Mobile Standard (non-touchscreen) smartphones which were released later as its own product line.
The first Pocket PCs supported a wide range of CPUs: ARM, MIPS and SH-3 which was later reduced to a single-platform: ARM (which is still the CPU-base of today's Windows Phone).
The new Pocket PC platform (code-named "Rapier") offered customers the best way to connect to their most essential information while away from their desk yet are versatile enough to satisfy the personal needs of those living today's busy mobile lifestyle. And Pocket PCs already included a broad range of native business, personal productivity and entertainment applications that could easily be expanded to adapt to each customer's changing needs through a continually growing number of industry-standard hardware and software expansion options.
Back in 2000, Microsoft's Pocket PC was leading edge by offering:
- Pocket Outlook - a personal information manager (PIM) with calendar, contacts, inbox, tasks and notes which was an ideal companion to the Microsoft Outlook messaging and collaboration client and a full version of Outlook 2000 shipped in the box of every sold Pocket PC.
- Pocket Internet Explorer - Love it or hate it but back in 2000, Pocket Internet Explorer provided the most full-functioning Web browser software available for handheld devices of this type at that date.
- Pocket Word and Excel - The pocket versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel provided the most functional and flexible office companion delivered on a PDA at that time.
- Windows Media Player - Long time before the iPod hit the market, the Windows Media Player was the first portable media player that played the Windows Media audio format (later enhanced with video support) and MP3.
- Pocket Streets - Long time before Pocket PCs got inbuilt GPS receivers and Google launched Google Maps, Pocket Streets allowed you take maps with you and includes pushpins for marking favorite locations for easy access.
From Pocket PC to Windows Mobile to Windows Phone:
- In April 2000, Microsoft announced Pocket PC (code-name Rapier)
- In October 2001, Microsoft launched Pocket PC 2002 (code-name "Merlin").
- In February 2002, Microsoft introduced Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition - an expansion of Pocket PC 2002 which finally integrated GSM and CDMA functionalities.
- In October 2002, Microsoft introduced Smartphone, the and long awaited non-touchscreen platform (code-name Stinger).
- In June 2003, Microsoft followed with the introduction of Windows Mobile 2003 (code-name Ozone) which was available as Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Premium Edition (touchscreen PDA), Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Professional Edition (touchscreen PDA), Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PC Phone Edition (touchscreen smartphone), Windows Mobile 2003 for Smartphone (non-touchscreen smartphone)
- In March 2004, Microsoft announced Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition which again was available as a touchscreen PDA and smartphone version as well as a non-touchscreen smartphone version.
- In May 2005, Microsoft introduced Windows Mobile 5 (code-name Crossbow) which brought a new and different look and feel as Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC, Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC Phone Edition and Windows Mobile 5.0 for Smartphone.
- In February 2007, Microsoft introduced Windows Mobile 6 (code-name Crossbow) which brought an updated look and feel and renamed left the Pocket PC brand. From this time, Pocket PCs where called Windows Mobile Classic, Pocket PC Phone Edition devices were called Windows Mobile Professional and Windows Mobile Smartphones were called Windows Mobile Standard.
- In April 2008, Microsoft announced Windows Mobile 6.1 which was the last version to support PDAs only (initially known as Pocket PC)
- In October 2009, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 6.5 which is the last Pocket PC-like Windows Mobile version.
And the future? In February 2010, Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 7 which will be a totally different mobile operating system, breaking with everything known from Pocket PC to Windows Phone 6.5 and it will mean a restart for Microsoft. Windows Phone 7 will become available anytime in the second half of 2010.
Just as a personal note: I started with Windows CE - until today the core of all Pocket PC, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone platforms - back in 1998 when I also launched my first Microsoft related website called "Arne's Windows CE Page". Thanks to all my work at MobileNet.de (the follower of Arne's Windows CE Page), I joined the team of contributing editors for Microsoft's PocketPC.com in January 2000 which was the first moment I came in contact with Microsoft's new and upcoming Pocket PC platform. Later, Microsoft awarded me as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for Windows Mobile which I'm until today.
Therefore, it's also a very personal day for me to celebrate: Happy Birthday Pocket PC / Windows Mobile / Windows Phone! Glad you was born, even if we had ups and downs - we always walked together and will do in future!
Cheers ~ Arne