Windows Mobile 6 Upgrade Scorecard: Not Good

With all Windows Mobile manufacturers reporting their upgrade paths for Windows Mobile 6, we’re releasing the industry scorecard on the matter. Microsoft and company have consistently faltered on upgrading, but we’re going to show folks just how bad the situation is. To this end, we’re rating both carriers and manufacturers on the performance of their respective lineups. Both the carrier and manufacturer need to sign off (and at times, vocalize) their wishes to have Windows Mobile upgrades for their devices.

As you’ll see when you hit read more, the industry is not doing good. With Apple about to launch their promised-to-get-upgrades iPhone, we feel that this is the perfect time to show the Windows Mobile sector how its doing.

Come next month, the Windows Mobile sector will have some real competition. Upgrades are a key factor to the most-informed users, and with the P-IMAP iPhone entering the sector, corporations and consumers can now vote with their wallets based on how much companies will support them.

Below represents our grading score

A: All units within reason upgraded
B: Most recent units upgraded, some older ones skipped
C: Most mainstream units upgraded
D: Major, mainstream units passed over
F: Most, if not all units not upgraded

Manufacturer Scorecard


E-TEN today upgraded their entire lineup of existing devices running Windows Mobile 5 to 6, just how things should be.


HP (almost proudly) admitted that not one of their devices would be upgraded to Windows Mobile 6. For the company that was once the single heavyweight in the Windows Mobile world, this is a sign of the times.


HTC would have gotten a C, but they skipped over some units less than six months old in their lineup, and are in fact still selling devices that they refuse to upgrade to Windows Mobile 6. The P3600 scandal that ensued afterwords is not okay for a company that refused to update a single CDMA device.

Motorola: F

No existing device will see a Windows Mobile 6 upgrade. Considering the Q was their only device, it’s not a shock that they get such a low grade for this. Worse, the Sprint version of the Q is about 90 days old, and is essentially obsolete-on-arrival.

Palm: F

While Palm has agreed to update the Treo 750 to Windows Mobile 6, both the Treo 700w and 700wx have been denied updates so far. In other words, Palm has ignored their entire Windows Mobile CDMA userbase. Worse, the Treo 700w and Treo 700wx are almost identical, and are both higher-selling Treos than the Treo 750. All that adds up to a terrible grade in the Windows Mobile world.

Samsung: D

Samsung also skipped over their entire CDMA lineup. The BlackJack is the only device to see a Windows Mobile 6 upgrade.

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Carrier Scorecard


The only U.S. Windows Mobile partner to actually get an A. AT&T upgraded (or has promised to upgrade) their entire current lineup to Windows Mobile 6. While we would have liked to have seen the Cingular 8125, no company has come close to this level of support.

Sprint: F

No Sprint device will be upgraded to Windows Mobile 6. Then again, no Sprint device was upgraded to Windows Mobile 5 either. Still, Sprint has failed to persuade anyone to give their devices the support they should have.

T-Mobile: D

T-Mobile discontinued their MDA and SDA, which were subsequently not upgraded. While the SDA was not important, the MDA is T-Mobile’s only Windows Mobile Phone Edition device. Users will now have to upgrade from the MDA to the T-Mobile Wing when it is released, leaving users with no migration path right now. Clearly a failure for the platform.

T-Mobile did, however, issue the first Windows Mobile 6 upgrade for the T-Mobile Dash. That helps a little, but for folks on a device other than their flagship Dash… it doesn’t go a long way.

Verizon: F

No Verizon device will be upgraded to Windows Mobile 6. Another clear failure for the platform.

{mospagebreak title=Page 3, Conclusions}

Overall Score (for the Windows Mobile platform as a whole): F

Will things get better? Not really. While iPhone is going to shake, rattle, and probably roll Windows Mobile’s dominance, Microsoft will likely wiggle out of ensuring full upgradeability for at least two more Windows Mobile versions.

Windows Mobile Photon will run on existing hardware, possibly requiring 2D acceleration in order to lock out existing devices. Thus, Microsoft will probably make an excuse for the next major version of Windows Mobile to not be upgradeable.

And, things won’t get much better after Photon. With the future of the RISC platform in question post-Photon, Microsoft probably will add firmware upgradeability, but because of planned major platform changes, it will only be useful for the existing version to get AKU (service pack) updates to devices, as well as vital radio and extended ROM updates.

In short, Apple’s iPhone solution will have key comparative advantage over Windows Mobile, unless Microsoft chooses to quickly act to re-align the future of the platform. iPhone’s self-updating ability, combined with promised firmware and system software upgrades, put Windows Mobile to shame (check the scorecard if in doubt).

With Nokia Update ensuring firmware updates for their Symbian devices, and Motorola adopting their own version of Symbian, Windows Mobile users will finally have choices other than eBay to upgrade their devices… even if it means a platform change.

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