Android vs. Windows Mobile – The Similarities and Differences

A brief history 
It is fair to suggest that most Clove Technology customers are more familiar and comfortable with Windows Mobile than any other mobile operating system. And well you should be! Windows Mobile (or Palm Sized PC then Pocket PC as they were known back in the day) gave Newton and Palm OS a run for their money, outshining them in speed and functionality.

Newton was killed off by Steve Jobs, and Palm faded away as their OS became less and less viable "modern applications" as Windows Mobile kept pushing the envelope of operating system, user interface (GUI), and hardware design. But when Microsoft had cornered the market with Windows Mobile they sat back and let their platform stagnate. Programs like Wisbar came out which let users customize their GUI. Companies like HTC and SPB came out with shell replacements to add a more modern look and feel to the aging Windows Mobile GUI. When the iPhone hit the shelves Microsoft knew it had let their OS stagnate far too long.

android_logoAndroid Joins the Game
Finally, handheld hardware was fast enough and had enough storage space to run a full-featured desktop operating system.
Before long Google had announced Android. Microsoft still didn’t have a GUI to compete.
Android was revolutionary. Unlike Windows Mobile, Android is not a "mobile OS" at its core, it’s a customized version of Linux with a touch-friendly interface and networking built in. This opened the door for more heavy-weight applications.


Android, like Windows Mobile (and unlike iPhone) offers the ability to run more than one application at a time.

Apps Run in the Background
Windows Mobile’s "X" button doesn’t close the running app, it’s more like a "minimize" button. Windows Mobile monitors memory and closes apps when it needs to.
Android doesn’t even have an X button; when you navigate away from an app the app keeps running in the background.

Both Windows Mobile and Android devices are made by top-tier hardware manufacturers, using fast processors with a respectable amount of storage space and memory.


Web Browser
Android comes native with a modern browser, optimized for mobile layout.
The stock web browser in Windows Mobile is playing catch-up with the browsers that come with Android and iPhone; handset manufacturers and telcos realize this and often bundle Opera or a similar browser to address the shortcomings of Pocket IE.

Email, Contacts, Calendar
Windows Mobile comes with native support for Exchange, Contacts, and Calendar; Google offers Google Sync for Gmail, Contacts, and Google Calendar.
Android comes native with Gmail, Contacts, and Calendar sync; Android itself didn’t come with native Exchange support (until version 2, but still doesn’t natively support syncing of calendar or tasks), HTC and others have built apps to bridge this functionality.

Windows Mobile has traditionally been known for its stylus-centric screens and UI, and hasn’t been very finger-friendly; this is beginning to change with Windows Mobile 6.5.
Android was born finger-friendly.

Operating System Licensing
Android is open-source and free for anyone who wants to use it on their hardware. This allows various players in the community to update, patch, and enhance the OS.
Windows Mobile must be licensed per device. Microsoft alone provides updates, patches, and enhancements to the hardware vendor (or carrier).

Both operating systems are viable players in today’s mobile market.
The biggest difference between the two is the manner in which the operating system is licensed. The Android method promises faster development cycles, quicker deployment to partners, and faster adoption on handsets. In short, Android’s momentum is significantly faster than Windows Mobile.
Microsoft has redoubled their efforts and promises a contender in Windows Mobile 7. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, what OS are you using? We would love to hear from others who have jumped ship from Windows Mobile to Android, but were equally interested in hearing from those who are still drinking the Microsoft Kool-Aid, and what they think of Android.




  1. John Davis says

    I have switch from Windows to Android, Had windows based phone for 5-6 years so was a big step for me. I always found windows based phones a very good PDA and not such a good phone, Android is not such a bad PDA and a very good phone.

    Once you work out how to get it all up nd running it is a good machine, put your contacts, calander,email. tasks etc up in a cloud and and it all works “live” and you never have to connect your phone to the PDA. Google documents works great. I would say I now use my laptop even less than before – so a good move for me.

  2. Liza says

    Hie, that’s interesting, I’m seriously considering switching to Android, but still not decided on which brand/model?
    what are you using?

    • says

      Hey Liza,

      You should consider checking out Orange’s San Fransisco [even if you are on another network you can always unlock it].

      It is a great phone and the price is insanely cheap at just around the £100 mark. The touch screen on it is brilliant, it’s got a great battery life, great specs, well supported online by a large amount of community based sites and project [of course along with official support also].

      I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you want a cheap phone that is still great or even just for trying out the Android platform for yourself.

      P.s: Orange just rename it the San Fransisco, the phone itself is actually the ZTC Blade but as far as I know the orange rebrand is cheaper.

      Otherwise if you’re looking for a top end Android phone then I would go with HTC all the way, absolutely top notch. The HTC Desire is a great phone, absolutely top of it’s game.

  3. DG says

    A couple of days ago I was gifted an HTC Thunderbolt. While it has alot of great qualities and I am happy to have it, I find the software that’s available to be seriously lacking. It seems amazing to me that this is where the pda market has gone. I got my first palm pda about 8 years ago. I was really impressed with the simplicity and usefulness of the basic apps. Datebook, Todo,the note pad and address book. The outliners that are available like bonsai add amazing organizing power and let you link items in the outline with the calendar or todo list. Agendus began as an amazing application that combines them all and makes a really effective organizing tool.
    I got a Dell Axim about two years ago and installed an emulator for palm on it and although the emulator works really well, there is no way to sync with a desktop or laptop. There is alot of great software for Windows mobile but amazingly Ive never been able to find an outline tool that works like Palm Bonsai.
    Now Ive got this Android…While it is useful, it is also sadly lacking as a pda or pocket computer for a computer that has so much power. Without a stylus,there really is no comparison to the functional software quality that exists on Palm or Windows pdas. At least that’s how it looks to me. When department and electronic stores had PDA departments, I really don’t think a very large percentage of the population were really interested in pocket computers. The mp3 market began to take over the pda shelf space and stylus contolled pdas are being replaced by finger driven interfaces. To me it seems like a sorry mistake.
    Lots of useful tools for android but Im having trouble finding serious productivity software that is fast and easy to use for this powerful new machine.

  4. Ben says

    Hi everybody,

    I have a now somewhat old HTC Touch Diamond, running Win6.1 pro and xandroid (XDA-Developers Version) on it. Camera not working, but for the rest kind of nice. Takes getting used to it, I suppose.