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THOUGHT: The way how Windows Mobile Software is distributed today needs to be roofed
Posted by Arne Hess - on Sunday, 17.07.05 - 18:54:27 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 10187x
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Today I found more time to play a little bit more intensive with the HTC Universal I got for the (long awaited) review and I have to admit, speed-wise (with UMTS/3G) it really rocks. It's amazing how much more fun the wireless Internet makes, if you use it with a UMTS/3G data connection instead of the way slower GPRS/2.5G connection.
Amazing enough, on my balcony, I really reached top speeds up to 360 Kbit/s (today's UMTS maximum is 384 Kbit/s) so yes - this is what I've dreamed about all the years since I've started in 1997 with my first Windows Powered handheld PC I've used for 9.6 Kbit/s 2G CSD (Circuit Switched Data) data connections!

Nevertheless, as you get more speed also your requirements increases and I wanted to try the one or the other software on the device, in combination with Windows Mobile 5.0 as well as with the VGA screen and I never realized it that much as today how hard it is to get cab-version of software only.

If you are not that deep into it, there are two version of setup files for Pocket PCs (and Smartphones): cab files and exe file. Exe files are installed from the PC via ActiveSync. However, basically the PC is "only" unpacking the exe file which also contains a cab file and copies this to your device. From there, the Windows Mobile device automatically starts the cab and installs the application. Some developers also provide cab versions of their applications. These cab files have to be either copied to the device (or can be directly downloaded - as I tried today) and can be executed/installed directly from the device; without requiring a PC in the middle.

Now, if you try to download a piece of software, where no cab version is available from the developers (or shop) site, you are lost, you will need your PC to get the file installed.

I think we will need a change in how the software is distributed in the close future since more and more Windows Mobile devices will be 3G enabled (doesn't matter which radio technology you are using) with download speeds 6 times higher than a traditional dial-up ISDN connection. Together with decreasing tariff-plans (yes, they will/have to decrease sooner or later and in some parts of the world you already get flat fees for mobile data) there is no sense anymore to offer a installation through the PC only.

The best case scenario would be, that a Windows Mobile device could recognize a PC exe file as valid for installation on the device itself and just taking the cab part of the file for installation. In this case we could continue with the exe distribution only which you can either use from your PC or Windows Mobile device. However, this has some architectural impacts which requires Microsoft support.
As a short-term solution, developers and online shops should start offering the download of both versions - the PC exe and Windows Mobile cab versions which allows you to select the proper file you need at the current situation.
Last but not least, maybe a developer is reading this and can offer a kind of installation wizard for Pocket PCs (and for sure for Smartphones) which you have to install one time only and which can be used later to extract cab files from a downloaded exe file if you had to download a exe version?

Nevertheless, with the current developments of speed, we need new ways to distribute software - not to mention W-LAN which is widely used at home, offices and public hotspots.

Cheers ~ Arne


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