Should we get PocketPC/Windows Mobile OS upgrades (for free)?

In the times when HTC rules the Windows Mobile market with an absurd amount of different models nobody is questioning their (and perhaps MS’) tactics of pure greed and “buy new device each couple of months” logic just to get a bunch of issues fixed (and introduce new ones) and of course, to get a new OS version. True, along you’ll get newer hardware as well, but do you really need it?

The logic is simple: HTC shovels tons of good (or bad) hardware into the device, installs whatever Windows Mobile version is actual, includes drivers or not, checks the functionality by doing few tests in a day time span and releases the model. At least this is my impression. If something doesn’t work as expected you are free to purchase an improved version in a month or so. OS upgrades are very very rare and more of an exception than the rule. Missing drivers? No way they will provide any driver that is missing from the beginning even if it is a core driver, such as graphics accelerator.

In other words, upgrades are something they are really reluctant to offer. Why? Simple, more we sell more we profit. Am I spoiled by desktop computers where at least I can buy an upgrade? I don’t think so. And nor does Apple. They are giving iPhone upgrades for free. OK, iPhone isn’t perfect nor is Apple selling policy etc. but, they are providing upgrades for free. Something unthinkable in Windows Mobile world. Somebody might say that newer Windows Mobile requires better hardware and won’t run on existing devices and thus buying a new model is a necessity. Wrong. Take for example my TyTN II. It has almost the same graphics horsepower and a bit slower CPU as iPhone. Should it run WM 6.5? I think so and probably it will through self-cooked ROMs. Will it run an official version of WM 6.5? I very much doubt it.

And then there is Google Android:

Android is the first free, open source, and fully customizable mobile platform.

This approach is unthinkable again, this time for both HTC/MS and Apple. It is too soon to judge it but the idea is great. Is it possible that some day we’ll see new devices come with drivers only and we’ll be able to install whatever OS we’ll want? Just like our desktop machines? It doesn’t looks like a near future but Android is certainly a step in that direction.

Anyway, the most important difference between Apple and HTC/MS (hard to say who is responsible for what) is how they treat their devices. Apple treats them with love and care and they put a lot of effort to make them customer friendly. On the other side, HTC just puts hardware together, installs OS, throws them to customers and forgets about them. I wonder which is the policy you prefer. HTC/MS should learn something from both Apple and Google not just copy Apple’s marketplace thing (forthcoming WM feature) to make more money. It is the attitude! Even the super hyped honeycomb UI won’t make a significant difference (why the heck are people even speaking about it?).

Last but not least, mass producing instead of software upgrading unnecessarily burdens mother earth with enormous amounts of (HTC) waste.

I am currently stuck with HTC TyTN II/WM6.1 and I am waiting for a new gadget to appear. It just might be an Android one, but certainly not powered by HTC. My confidence in Windows Mobile is slowly vaporizing and I’ll most probably jump the wagon. Heck, even ease of development won’t convince me anymore (being a .net developer programming WM is somewhat familiar). It is just not quite the time for me to switch, yet.It is comming though.

Perhaps my impression is wrong, feel free to correct me. Note also that this article is more or less about the OS upgrades, not other problems.