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THOUGHT: Who locked down the Windows Mobile Smartphone Start Menu? [UPDATE]
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 04.04.07 - 13:51:40 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 26284x
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Oh man, this topic is annoying me and it's not the first time that it annoys me but now I want and have to rant about it because it starts to seriously hurt (me). One of the benefits of having a Smartphone is the fact that it is a kind of micro computer. So far so good and with most Smartphones you can install your own applications to make it even better and provide the appropriate applications for your needs.
However something is wrong here and it's a basic customization functionality. Sure, I can change the Home Screen look & feel of a Windows Mobile Smartphone and if I'm a little bit talented I can even create my own Home Screens by tweaking the Home Screen definition file (which is a XML file). If I'm less talented I can download great 3rd party Home Screens (most of the for free) but for some reasons I cannot change the Start Menu order.

Put it this way: I'm a pretty "traditional" PC and mobile phone user and I love to group everything in directories. For instance on my PCs I have a pretty clean Start Menu where I have grouped all applications in (for me) meaningful categories:

As you can see above - I don't have too many categories on the first level which provides a pretty sleek look & feel and since I've used the first Windows Mobile Pocket PC, I always did the same with my Pocket PC Start Menu and Programs folder to get a similar look & feel:

However, for some reasons this regrouping isn't allowed (anymore) with Windows Mobile Smartphones. Let me take the Samsung SGH-i600 as an example (but same happens with other Smartphones, it's not Samsung related). I don't want to have such a crowdie Start Menu which requires a lot of scrolling:

No, I would prefer something cleaner like this (which is a very old topic Carlo wrote about in his tip: '"8" is the Smartphone's sweet number'):

But no, if you follow Carlo's tip today, doesn't matter if you try it on your Smartphone or via the PC's Explorer, you are not allowed to change anything. On the Smartphone the Cut & Paste option isn't available and therefore you cannot move a simple shortcut:

Now, if you think you can be smart and edit the Start Menu folder via your PC you will notice that the shortcuts are write protected:

Oh no? I don't have the permission to move a simple shortcut (except from the applications I installed myself since these files are not write protected ROM files) on my own phone? Who the heck made Start Menu shortcuts protected System files?

With the very early Smartphones, for instance the i-mate Smartphones from HTC, these files weren't protected at all but you was allowed to reorder the Start Menu. However, also the latest HTC phones got this protection. Thankfully there was a kind of unofficial unlocker available which changed the Registry values to unlock the files again but this unlocker is working with HTC Smartphones only (and it's not supporting Windows Mobile 6 anymore). Other manufactures aren't supported and therefore, there is no way to easily edit the Start Menu of a Windows Mobile Smartphone - without deep-diving into the Registry.

What the heck? Who thinks to know me better than myself? Who wants to dictate me how my very own Start Menu has to look like? I don't know, I've addressed it at both - Microsoft and the manufactures but nothing changed so far and therefore I think it's time to bring this topic to everybody's attention.

Would either Microsoft or the manufactures please stop with this stupid paternalism of the customers? We know best how our Start Menus should look like. It's appreciated if a suggestion is made, after a device is switched on the first time, but it shouldn't be that hard coded at all.

UPDATE: Here we go, if anyone else is looking for a solution as well, the good old SDA Security Unlocker also works fine on the i600! Now my Smartphone looks like I want to have it but anyway - why to force customers to run such software (even if this piece of software is trustworthy)?

Cheers ~ Arne

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