The Microsoft Pocket PC platform provides scaled down versions of Outlook (Inbox, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks) and Office (Word, Excel) components for vendors to bundle in their Pocket PC models. They also provide Pocket PC versions of Microsoft Reader and Windows Media Player. Pocket counterparts of Microsoft Money and Microsoft Streets & Trips (also MapPoint) are also available as either part of the basic system or available as part of the purchased product (e.g., Pocket Money). There are enough Pocket counterparts to lead the new user to assume that every major Microsoft productivity product has a Pocket PC version.
This leads to confusion when a new Pocket PC user notices that Microsoft doesn’t have a counterpart for Microsoft Access or Microsoft PowerPoint. “Where is Pocket Access and Pocket PowerPoint for the Pocket PC?” they ask. The answer is they don’t exist and we Pocket PC users should be glad.
The lack of Microsoft produced counterparts to Access and PowerPoint encouraged third party developers to develop excellent add-on components. They are unhindered by the the Microsoft burn-to-ROM development cycle and produce continual innovation instead of producing new versions only for each new Pocket PC development cycle (Pocket PC 2000, Pocket PC 2002, etc.). So, we now have a couple of excellent third party produced Access-compatible database and PowerPoint-compatible presentation products available for the Pocket PC.
In contrast, there is only one alternative word processor (SoftMaker’s TextMaker) and one alternative spreadsheet (Bye Design’s SpreadCE) that I know of. And, I suspect neither yet enjoy the kind of sales probably seen by third party database and presentation software for the Pocket PC despite the additional word processing and spreadsheet features offered by these alternatives. In the meantime, Pocket Word and Pocket Excel provided by Microsoft hasn’t really changed since the Pocket PC 2000 was released.
I had an opportunity to express this opinion to the Microsoft Pocket Office developer team when my fellow Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) and I were able to meet with them in Redmond during the February MVP Summit. So, here’s hoping we don’t see Pocket Access and Pocket PowerPoint emerge from the Redmond campus. And, cheers to the hard working third party developers who have provided me with rich tools sets through their continual innovation.
Note: Microsoft actually did create a Pocket Access and Pocket PowerPoint that were part of the older Handheld PC product line. I don’t recall either product getting much use by Handheld PC users. There is Microsoft SQL Server CE 2.0 for high-end database application development for the Pocket PC.
What do you think? Are the 3rd party add-ons sufficient for your Pocket PC?