Windows Mobile OS — On Its Last Breath?

August 30, 2009

ripArguable, the Apple iPhone is one of the most successful smartphones on the market. Its slick, flashy user interface and tie to the Internet for data retrieval are its most attractive features. Its only downfall is the exclusivity on the slow and spotty AT&T Network.

Other phone developers and cell phone carriers are following suit, creating smartphones that run a similar iPhone operating system (e.g., Google’s Android OS and Palm’s WebOS). Touch screen, finger flicking, swiping, and pinching, full web browser, etc. are all typical features that users expect from these high-end smartphones.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS has been around for quite a while, and compared to the iPhone, Android, and WebOS devices seems archaic. It is very apparent that the Windows Mobile OS is based on the Microsoft Windows Operating system with its popup menus and standard dialogbox screens. I’ve been using a Motorola Q phone (with Windows Mobile 5 OS) for a few years now, and it routinely hangs when I try to access an application, screens don’t display properly, and I’m forced to pull the battery out and restart quite often. Definitely not as slick or user-friendly as the more modern touch screen OSes. Read the rest of this entry »

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64-Bit or 32-Bit Operating System?

August 30, 2009

32bit_64bitIn the past, it seemed that the 32-bit operating system was the dominate OS among most personal computers. Microsoft Windows, Apple Macs, and most flavors of Linux/Unix ran on 32-bit systems. With the modern CPUs now having 64-bit capability, I’m seeing more and more use of the 64-bit OS. Recently, Apple released their Snow Leopard OS which is apparently completely 64-bit (for the Intel processors). Microsoft offers 64-bit for both their Windows XP and Windows Vista OSes, with the same for the upcoming Windows 7 OS.

I started using Windows XP 64-bit for the first time on my company’s work laptop, and it does seem to run fine. The biggest benefit, is that I’m no longer restricted to 2 GB of memory per application (the 64-bit OS can use all the installed memory). The only issue I have, is that some applications and device drivers won’t work properly. For example, I have a 32-bit version of a PDF creator software that simply crashes when I try to run it. My only recourse, is to find an equivalent 64-bit version or try a different application. It can be a pain, since you don’t know if the application is crashing because it is incompatible or if you’re missing something from the OS installation.

Recently I ordered a new Dell laptop for my son, and I noticed that Dell is installing Windows Vista 64-bit OS on their machines that have more than 2 GB of memory. This seems to be a new standard policy for Dell, since all of their Intel CPU machines are 64-bit compatible. Thus, it appears that the 64-bit OS is now considered a mainstream commodity.

With Windows 7 about to be officially released in 2 months, I’m contemplating whether to install the 32-bit or 64-bit version. I have 4 GB of memory on my Desktop PC (running a Intel Quad 2 Core processor), so my hardware could certainly make use of the 64-bit OS. My only concern is that my existing software won’t run on the machine. Critical software includes my Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 compilers, recorded TV video processing tools (e.g., DVRMSToolbox), TV Tuner card and IR Blaster devices, and Palm WebOS SDK. That’s why I’m leaning a bit toward the Windows 7 Home Professional version, since it has a “Windows XP Compatibilty Mode” which should run applications designed for the WinXP under Windows 7. Whether this will also take care of older 32-bit applications, I’m not sure.

In any case, the distribution CD for Windows 7 comes with both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions, so if the 64-bit OS doesn’t seem to work out for me I can always drop back down to the 32-bit version.


Preparing for Windows 7: Remote Desktop Connnection

August 29, 2009

win7For most of the work I do (web site development, mobile phone app development, etc) I have a Intel Quad processor desktop PC system running Windows Vista in my main home office. I also often work from my kitchen table using my Dell D610 laptop (running Windows XP) so I can help watch my 5 year-old son and our recent addition (4-month old micheavious Labrador Puppy). To make thing easier, I’ll use Windows Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) to remotely connect to my Desktop PC (which is in my home office upstairs) from my Dell laptop.

If you’re unfamiliar with Windows RDC, it allows you to remotely make a connection between two different computers. In my case, my desktop PC is the “Server” and my Dell laptop is the “client”. So, from my laptop it is just like I’m sitting in front of my desktop pc.

It actually works pretty well, as Microsoft’s RDC will resize the displayed application windows to fit my laptop screen resolution quite nicely. Also, the speed of RDC is remarkably quick, where I see virtually no lag in user response. Of course, watching videos or doing any other graphics-intensive activity won’t work very well using RDC since a lot of graphic updates are being sent across the network connection.

Now, my version of Windows Vista is Home Premium which does not allow for RDC (you need to get Home Professional or Ultimate). But, fortunately there is a hack on the internet that allows one to modify the Home Premium installation to allow for Windows RDC.

With Windows 7 OS coming out in October 22nd, I contemplated whether I should pre-order the new OS and, which version should I get. As it turns out, Windows 7 Home Premium also does not have RDC capability, so I would need to get Home Professional or Ultimate. Instead of trying to hack a new Win 7 Home Premium installation, I decided to look around for other alternatives to Windows RDC. Read the rest of this entry »