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Introducing Our Special Mobility Issue

Introducing Our Special Mobility Issue

People ask me all the time "Why do you play with these toys?" - and yes, there is the aspect of an addiction to gadgetry. Tablet PC, Pocket PC, My SPOT watch - I call this my device trio because I personally carry all three and they are cool! But I also carry them for reasons other than just liking gadgets.

One reason is because globally we are turning into mobile workers. I was reading some presentations given at Windows Anywhere in February. Jon Pulsipher, lead program manager in the Windows Mobile division at Microsoft, quoted a Deloitte Research study: 66% of US enterprises are piloting a mobility solution. Wow! Then later, Michelle McKelvey (mobile ISV architect, Microsoft) said that the IDC reports the US mobile worker force will be 13.3 million in 2006. Also, with connectivity popping up everywhere, there is no end to where mobility solutions can exist. The point here is that there is a giant opportunity to take advantage of time out of the office.

I also found a few more supporting facts on the Gartner Web site. First, Mobile PCs continue to outsell desktops. And in a different report, Windows CE is now the PDA O/S worldwide leader. That same report also mentions that Palm's marketshare almost split in 2004. Therefore, Microsoft continues to be a good partner for mobility consultants.

Hold on one second, my devices do help me personally. It would be hypocritical for me to promote this to clients and not live off it myself. It is convenient to have my device trio with me because I can always show someone how to take notes in a meeting (you gotta love OneNote, especially on a Tablet), how I'm up on the news without reading the paper or visiting Internet news sites, how I have my contacts and calendar with me all the time, and how I love Outlook Tasks. And since it's baseball season (and I love baseball), you can often find me on the weekend at one of my son's baseball games - with my Fossil SPOT watch timing the game so the time limit does not catch our team off guard, reading the news between tournament games, or checking out the weather report for tomorrow's games. Hopefully you can see that I really use this stuff. It has value to me, both in my working day and in my regular life.

As I have gotten older and had to pay more attention to the financial aspects of consulting, I sometimes lose touch with the gratification of helping someone. That's why I like to get in front of clients - to see their eyes light up when they say "That will help us. Show me how I can do that." Even though that was part of the draw to technology when I was younger, I appreciate those moments now even more. Life is so short! If I can combine the ability to help people, the opportunity to develop solutions and solve problems, and make a living for my family, then I feel better about me and how I spend my time. However doing this and introducing someone to using a Tablet or Pocket PC device, that adds a little more enjoyment to the job. I'm not sure why - I guess because it goes back to the gadget principle. Mobility is the icing on the cake for my professional life.

Enough about me! Let's consider what this month's authors are telling us about mobility. This is a great issue and I think that you'll see it too. As I mention these articles below, be sure to match the article to the author's picture in Figure 1.

Derek Ferguson, our own DNDJ editor-in-chief, coauthors with Jon Box on an article entitled "Windows Mobile Version 5.0 Revealed." Windows Mobile 5.0 has many great features for users as well as developers. The improved Pocket Outlook user interface will be just one of the areas that we mention (see Figure 1). Can you imagine when hearing your Pocket PC Phone ring, looking at the device and seeing a picture of the caller? This product represents a lot of what is missing in.NET Compact Framework 1.0. Figure 2 is an emulator showing the Pictures and Video application that comes with Windows Mobile 5.0. Bottom line: Windows Mobile 5.0 rocks!

Jon Box looks at how you can Tablet-enable your application without any developers. With his coding hands tied behind his back, Jon shows you how easy it is to use the context tagging tool, a freebie included in the Tablet PC SDK.

Rowland Gosling debuts with an article entitled "Building Solutions with SQL Server 2005 Mobile Edition." The upgrade of SQLCE has many benefits, and Rowland highlights these in addition to showing the SQL Server Management Studio. If you have spent time in that little Query Analyzer that runs on the device, this article is for you.

Chris Tacke, one of the voices of OpenNETCF.Org, introduces the TinyCLR in "Introduction to Programming for the TinyCLR." If you ever wondered what the guts of a SPOT watch would be good for, this is a must read. Chris gets us a look at how .NET developers will be able to play in the embedded world and what that really means. All I can say is "Where do I order the kit from?"

Dr. Neil Roodyn last appeared in the magazine when he wrote about the Tablet PC SDK, released last August. Still, with a focus on Mobile PC development activities, Dr. Neil returns with a look at how your application can deal with detecting network connectivity. Entitled "Network Location Awareness," Dr. Neil walks us through the Win32 API calls that Mobile PC application developers need to know about. And this is not a polling algorithm; he shows how to get events raised in our managed code.

Casey Chesnut shows us a peek at the Microsoft Speech Platform in "An Introduction to Speech Server." The article is enlightening because I had no idea about some of the capabilities that the Microsoft Speech group has built. If you don't know the difference between multimodal and voice-only applications, you'd better check this out. And if you think that this is only for the server and desktop developers, I encourage you to see what Casey has to say about devices.

Amit Chopra, who works on the Visual Studio for Devices Team, gives us "Visual Studio 2005 for Device Developers." Around here, we typically look at life through the "managed" lense; however, Amit gives us a stroll through the IDE, pointing out tips for all device application developers. Native developers as well as the .NET developers will see plenty of benefits in this article.

Jerry Dixon shows us how to increase the flexibility of applications by dynamically loading objects from external assemblies.

Steve Mandel (not pictured) reviews Programming ASP.NET 2nd Edition, and tells readers that despite some blemishes, the book is generally a worthwhile read.

Dennis Hayes continues his expedition in the Mono life. He reports about several events including an update on System.Windows.Forms, some new .NET languages, and other Mono happenings from around the virtual globe. Congratulations go to Dennis and you'll have to read the column to find out why.

And one last note, Jonathan Goodyear, fellow RD from Florida, is talking about a surprise at TechEd. He won't tell us much, other than it's called Project Rally, and he told us to look at this video (www.aspsoft.com/rallytrailer1.html). More details on this as we get them.

More Stories By Jon Box

Jon Box is an Architect Evangelist in Developer & Platform Evangelism with the Microsoft Corporation. He coauthored Building Solutions with the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework, published by Addison-Wesley, and blogs at http://blogs.msdn.com/jonbox/default.aspx.

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