A Pocket PC, abbreviated P/PC or PPC, is also known by Microsoft as a 'Windows Mobile Classic device'. It is a hardware specification for a handheld-sized computer (Personal digital assistant) that runs the Microsoft 'Windows Mobile Classic' operating system. It has some of the capabilities of modern desktop PCs.

Currently there are thousands of applications for handhelds adhering to the Microsoft Pocket PC specification, many of which are freeware.[1] Some of these devices also include mobile phone features. Microsoft compliant Pocket PCs can also be used with many other add-ons like GPS receivers, barcode readers, RFID readers, and cameras.

In 2007, with the advent of Windows Mobile 6, Microsoft dropped the name Pocket PC in favor of a new naming scheme. Devices without an integrated phone are called Windows Mobile Classic devices instead of Pocket PCs. Devices with an integrated phone and a touch screen are called Windows Mobile Professional devices and devices without a touch screen are called Windows Mobile Standard devices.[2]


The Pocket PC is an evolution from previous calculator-sized computers. Keystroke-programmable calculators which could do simple business and scientific applications were available by the 1970s. In 1982, Hewlett Packard's HP-75 incorporated a 1-line text display, an alphanumeric keyboard, BASIC language and some basic PDA capabilities. The HP 95LX and HP 200Lx series packed a PC-compatible DOS computer with graphics display and QWERTY keyboard into a palmtop format. The Omigo 100 used a pen and graphics interface on dDOS, but was not widely sold in the United States. The HP 300XL built a palmtop computer on the Windows CE operating system, but not until the form factor and features of the Palm platform were adapted that it was named the Pocket PC, after the Pocket-Rocket.


According to Microsoft, the Pocket PC is "a handheld device that enables users to store and retrieve e-mail, contacts, appointments, tasks, play multimedia files, games, exchange text messages with Windows Live Messenger (formerly known as MSN Messenger), browse the Web, and more." (src: microsoft buyersguide)[dead link]

From a technical standpoint, "Pocket PC" is a Microsoft specification that sets various hardware and software requirements for mobile devices bearing the "Pocket PC" label.

For instance, any device which is to be classified as a Pocket PC must:

  • Run Microsoft's Windows Mobile, PocketPC edition
  • Come bundled with a specific suite of applications in ROM
Note: the name Windows Mobile includes both the Windows CE operating system and a suite of basic applications along with a specified user interface

OS versions

Windows Mobile 6.5

The first Windows Mobile 6.5 device was first shown on September 2009. While not officially available to the public as of July 2009, leaked ROMs have surfaced for specific devices.[3] The generic ROM images for Windows Mobile 6.5 are also available as part of the officially distributed and freely downloadable development kit.[4]

Windows Mobile 6.1

Microsoft's current Windows Mobile release is Windows Mobile 6.1, and one of the major changes from WM6 is the introduction of instant messaging-like texting.[5] Windows Mobile 6.1 was built upon Windows CE 5.

Windows Mobile 6

Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6, internally code-named 'Crossbow', was officially released by Microsoft on February 12, 2007. Windows Mobile 6 was still based on Windows CE 5 and was effectively just a face lift of Windows Mobile 5. With Windows Mobile 6 also came Microsoft's new naming conventions and devices were no longer called Pocket PCs. Windows Mobile Classic would become the name for Pocket PC type devices without phone capabilities and Windows Mobile Professional would be used for devices with phone capabilities.

Windows Mobile 5

Windows Mobile 5 for Pocket PC was based on Windows CE 5 and contained numerous fixes and improvements over Pocket PC 2003 SE.

Pocket PCs running previous versions of the operating system generally stored user-installed applications and data in RAM, which meant that if the battery was depleted the device would lose all of its data. Windows Mobile 5.0 solved this problem by storing all user data in persistent (flash) memory , leaving the RAM to be used only for running applications, as it would be on a desktop computer. As a result, Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PCs generally had a greater amount of flash memory, and a smaller amount of RAM, compared to earlier devices

Windows Mobile 2003

Windows Mobile 2003 consisted of the Windows CE.NET 4.2 operating system bundled with scaled-down versions of many popular desktop applications, including Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer, Word, Excel, Windows Media Player, and others.

Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition added native landscape, square screen and VGA support as well as other fixes and changes to those features already present in the original release of Windows Mobile 2003.

Pocket PC 2000 and 2002

Pocket PC 2000 (launched April 2000) and Pocket PC 2002 (launched October 2001) both ran Windows CE 3.0 underneath. Some Pocket PC 2002 devices were also sold as "Phone Editions" which included cell phone functionality in addition to the PDA capabilities.