"Unlocked devices" is a term for devices that our purchased without mobile operator (MO)/carrier incentives. Thus they are usually unbranded devices from the OEM. The main thing is that you can use the device on different MO networks since they are not branded and "locked" into a specific one. Granted the frequencies and MO network technology have to match with what the device can use. Internationally the vast majority of MOs in countries are using GSM networks. In the United States two MOs, AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM based.
Many MOs also grant customers in good standing with the codes necessary to unlock their particular device to be used with different MOs when traveling internationally.
With the many devices now on the market the opportunities to use a GSM quad-band device in multiple countries has finally reached a close to global solution. The last hurdle is the complex nature of MO plans and roaming charges. To further reduce roaming costs in foreign countries a good practice could be to use a pre-paid account within that country or region. Using a GSM device you could easily change out the SIM.
Recent EU regulations on the voice roaming costs within the EU region are also probably pushing the data plan costs in the near future. This could be extremely useful as MOs consolidate/partner across country lines and primary MOs per region could be used instead of per country. Also in the SAARC region in South Asia it appears discussions around lowered roaming charges are also talking place.. I think this all is pointing to the clear trend wireless communications is having on our society in general. A critical necessity that is influencing our political systems.. :-)
This is a recent report by Philippe Winthrop with some good detailed cost information on how unlocked devices could save costs for companies with International requirements: http://www.mobileenterprisemag.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=MultiPublishing&mod=PublishingTitles&tier=4&id=037F78DBA9EA43DFB11F2DCD66127BCF
As we continue to want to use mobile devices for communications our need for better input mechanisms and technology has been increasing. The speed of which we can use the devices has always been in focus. For grins see how this speed test of 9 different devices can be used to enter the infamous "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" and how various devices faired:
I noticed some recent information on how the previous co-inventor of the now almost universal T9 input technology, Cliff Kushler and Randy Marsden, has been working on a new idea. The idea is basically around how you could with hand gestures over a visual keyboard pass over letters that make up a word in a continuous line. This will obviously pass over letters not needed for the word and the idea is that a built-in dictionary will parse through the combinations and give the most acceptable answer.
Some of the main strengths behind this idea is the low training skills needed to pick up a device with a standard keyboard layout and find the letters. The team at Swype is stating: "Even novice users can quickly achieve sustained data entry speeds of over 40 words per minute."
Not to be outdone, since there is no downloadable product to beta test on the Swype I found another company, Dasur, in Israel which has already has a patent on a solution very similar to Swype. They call it SlideIT and have a downloadable demo for Windows Mobile here. Check out their video on it below:
The old VNC from AT&T Labs has been around for many years now in various flavors in the open source world. Now the original developers behind it and their current company, RealVNC, are planning to enter the mobile world officially later this month with a true 2-way remote control solution:
Currently the RealVNC Viewer is available for Windows Mobile here in Enterprise Edition beta (v4.2.7):
There is also an free .NET VNC Viewer for Windows Mobile available over on SourceForge.net here with a recent update from April 2007:
- and another freebie version from Allware here:
Otherwise there are several other VNC variants out there for Windows Mobile over the years, but I believe most required funds to use.. It will be interesting where the RealVNC folks take this and how applicable it becomes to SCMDM\VPN type solutions..
One of the most powerful things about Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager (SCMDM) is the ability to manage all of your Windows Mobile 6.1 or above devices through Active Directory (AD) Group Policy Objects (GPOs). A large percentage of the corporate market is already using GPOs to manage their desktop, notebook and server environments.
The GPO technology was introduced in Windows 2000 Server. Before that there were System Policies in Windows NT 4.0. There is already a fair amount of documentation and knowledge around extending GPOs to your own needs. But here I will go into some aspects more important around making use of SCMDM and supporting Windows Mobile in an enterprise running AD.
In this article I will go through how you can extend your own GPOs to have additional settings not available out of the box in the default Windows Mobile GPO template supplied by Microsoft in SCMDM 2008. I will expect that you already know how to access and use the default SCMDM GPO settings.
Windows Mobile Registry Keys
GPOs work by manipulating how registry keys are changed and written on the client machines. This is no different on Windows Mobile, compared to other Windows platforms at this point in time.
I will save the discussion on where to find and research Windows Mobile registry locations. But will point out that many are bound to specific OS levels, OEM and hardware requirements. So what works on one WM device may not work on another. So I can't stress enough the aspect of testing such settings before a larger deployment to end-users.
For this article I have asked my colleague, Chris De Herrera, to suggest some registry keys to use:
Improve text rendering performance by increasing the GLYPH Cache to 32k (decimal):
Internet Explorer Mobile homepage settings:
Configure Communicator Mobile:
Furthermore I have also researched the following registry keys which may be helpful in corporate environments:
Default Search Page:
Internet Explorer User Agent:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\5.0\User Agent]
Today Screen Text:
Display Time/Date in Taskbar or disable for battery indicator:
Permit Bluetooth and IrDA File Transfer:
Please be aware that most of these settings require a soft reboot of the device before they become effective. The SCMDM policy agent should prompt you for a reboot of the device when an updated policy is synchronized from the Device Management Server.
Creating .ADM Files
Using the information published here about the correct registry key prefix to use for GPOs on Windows Mobile I created my own .ADM file with my sample registry keys listed above and a few other samples currently available.
You can download it here. I have noted in my sample the references used.
Look for a new folder called "Windows Mobile Settings-Extended" in the Computer Configuration section of the Group Policy Object Editor.
The single main trick was to prefix the native Windows Mobile registry keys with the <SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Mobile Settings\Registry> path.
So the native:
<HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\AboutURLs> became the longer:
<SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Mobile Settings\Registry\HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\AboutURLs>.
Note the collapsed HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive into the named HKLM. This also works for the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive into HKCU.
Further Information on .ADM Files
Please see the reference links below for more details on the syntax used in the example .ADM file. The syntax and commands are not the easiest in the world of IT.
I also found a ADM file editor, called ADM Template Editor from a small company in Australia that may be useful if you are planning to write and manage a large number of custom .ADM/.ADMX files.
Again, please test the policies on the OS platform, level, and hardware you wish to broadly deploy your Windows Mobile settings out to.
Look for more articles soon on useful Windows Mobile registry keys and GPOs!
Microsoft articles on writing GPOs:
How to Write a Simple .Adm File for Registry-based Group Policy
KB225087: Writing Custom ADM Files for System Policy Editor
KB816662: Recommendations for managing Group Policy administrative template (.adm) files
Creating a New Group Policy Object for (Windows Mobile) Devices:
SCMDM Technical Article: Deploying and Configuring Communicator Mobile with MDM:
SCMDM Technical Article: Name Resolution Considerations for Company Web Site Access
ADM Template Editor: (Recommended, one of the few I believe out there!)
Cross posted on http://blog.enterprisemobile.com as well.