While Michael is correct that a company’s first obligation is to its stockholders, he has missed a crucial point — if you piss off your customers, they’re likely to leave. As the HP Forum thread on this shows, many people will take exactly that approach — and they’ll stop buying other HP products, too. I recall reading that customers are about seven times as likely to tell others about bad experiences with a company than about good experiences, too. That won’t help HP’s stockholders, will it? As for the claim that all the features won’t fit, I don’t buy that. My iPAQ 5550 has a 17.4 MB iPAQ File Store, which is basically Flash ROM that hasn’t been used. Put the extra features there and reduce the size of my iPAQ File Store. Another alternative is to offer the Professional version as the upgrade, which leaves some of the programs normally in the ROM image out and supplies them as RAM-installable versions. That’s what Microsoft did with Pocket PC 2002 and, I think, Windows Mobile 2003.

As for HP’s claim that some applications won’t work in landscape in SE, so what? The user can switch back to portrait without a soft reset.

Even if the application crashes the iPAQ, so what? Not all Pocket PC 2000 applications worked in Pocket PC 2002, and Compaq made the upgrade available. Not all Pocket PC 2002 applications worked in Windows Mobile 2003, and HP made that upgrade available. In fact, WM 2003 was a much more “dangerous” upgrade, I thought, because it severely changed the operating system infrastructure (swithcing from Windows CE 3.0 to 4.2, for example). The claim that current programs exist for landscape mode is also full of holes.

First, many of Microsoft’s existing Windows Mobile 2003 applications won’t work well in landscape, requiring a switch back to portrait to function properly. They should work fine in the SE upgrade because they’ll be designed to work properly in both portrait and landscape mode.

Second, the existing landscape programs require a soft reset to switch modes, a significant penalty. I have dotPocket, but don’t use it for landscape mode precisely because I don’t want to soft rest while I’m in the middle of doing something.

To see examples of applications that don’t work well in landscape, see my dotPocket review.

The only feature of SE that may not provide a benefit to existing iPAQ users is the VGA support, but even that’s iffy. If the ability to scale fonts works in QVGA mode, even the VGA support will provide a benefit. Compaq and HP have shown in the past that they can offer challenging upgrades, and I’m sure HP could do it again. They just don’t want to.

Many people still won’t buy Toshiba Pocket PCs because Toshiba had a habit of abandoning users of recently purchased devices. They seem to have learned their lesson, and offered SE upgrades for the e400 and e800 series. (And the upgrades were free, too.) It’s too bad HP is going backwards, and will likely learn the same lesson the hard way.

Steve Silicon Valley Pocket PC

http://www.svpocketpc.com

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