What’s the main purpose of a mobile phone? Phone calls! My last conference call opened with one of the primary speakers explaining that he was late because “Windows Mobile froze while I was entering the meeting ID and I had to reboot my phone”. Windows Mobile users are probably nodding their heads in sympathy while Symbian (Nokia), PalmOS and iPhone folks are shaking their heads in disbelief. Microsoft seemingly forgot that phones need to reliably make, well, phone calls.
Misbehaving “third party” applications usually get the blame for Windows Mobile crashes, but the real fault lies in the OS’s architecture. Application isolation is a fundamental requirement of an OS but Microsoft’s Windows Mobile still has plenty of weaknesses eight years on. You can choose to avoid third party apps to help avoid their flaws, however, the phone loses much of its appeal then and, even then, it’s still not as stable as dedicated phones! The iPhone is no saint either but its watchdog does kill hanging processes far more effectively than Windows Mobile. I’ve never had a problem with the iPhone’s Phone app (knocking on wood). Restrictions against 3rd background apps (aka high cost to license) help to stabilize both PalmOS phones and Apple’s iPhone. While these restrictions avoid stalled phones, they also limit the platforms’ potential. Let’s hope that Android and webOS will do better.