Microsoft has started outlining the changes it will introduce in the new version of its Windows Mobile 2005 - due after the summer.
Prevously codenamed Magneto, Windows Mobile 2005 will appear in new devices and as a free upgrade for some Windows Mobile 2003 models.
The first major upgrade in almost two years, Mobile 2005 will include support for Flash memory and improved versions of Microsoft Office apps, plus a Windows Media Player upgrade. For buisness users, it will synchronise with Exchange Server 2003, plus instant messaging and security features.
The Office changes should please people who've been frustrated by the rather haphazard formatting support for Excel and Word in their Pocket Office counterparts in earlier incarnations of Windows Mobile. Now known as Excel Mobile and Word Mobile, the new versions will allow you to create, edit, and view Excel spreadsheets, and to edit Word documents with graphics without disturbing the formatting of the original desktop documents.
Outlook Mobile makes it easy for you to add a photo to a contact and then sync it to a desktop copy of Outlook (which has supported contact photos for a couple of years). A new PowerPoint Mobile application lets you view and rehearse (but not edit or create) PowerPoint presentations.
Windows Mobile 2005 ships with Windows Media Player 10, which includes Microsoft's Janus digital rights management technology for playing copy-protected content from music and video services such as Musicmatch, Napster, and TiVoToGo.
In addition to supporting flash memory, Windows Mobile 2005 supports landscape displays on smart phones and improved one-handed navigation on handhelds. Also new: support for 3G networks and Wi-Fi on smart phones, plus the ability to enable technologies such as push-to-talk and video-conferencing. The OS also improves support for Bluetooth, USB 2.0, and integrated hard drives - items that will appeal to people who want to transfer digital music files from PCs.
Finally, Microsoft says it has improved security, including making Active Sync more hacker-resistant, supporting more-secure remote access features, and allowing users to limit Web access to secure sites. If it all works, Windows Mobile 2005 should be an upgrade worth getting.