Even though there is a huge amount of free Windows Mobile software out there, Microsoft has done a terrible job of consolidating all of those applications into one place like Apple’s App Store and the Android Marketplace have so efficiently managed to do. This means less organization for Windows Mobile, and more work for you — the consumer. I personally own two Windows Mobile devices–the Dell Axim x50 (yeah, it’s old school now) and the Samsung Omnia (i910), and I’m writing this article to let you know which websites I rely on to get me through the Windows Mobile fog completely free of charge.
The sites listed below will provide you with tons of free Windows Mobile software, but they will also give you new ideas and innovations as far as usage and layout goes. I’m hoping that this article will help you to unlock the real potential of your Windows Mobile device.
This site by itself may be enough to satisfy your freeware cravings–it’s got enough software in it to compete as an App Store by itself! Organized by category, this site offers over 6700 programs that are completely free for download and use. I would recommend checking out the browsers category (because the native WM browser absolutely sucks), and then taking a look at different free today screen options to replace the unfriendly today screen on most Windows Mobile devices (unless you own an HTC, in which case you’re pretty much set).
While perusing through the categories, be mindful of the fact that filters are your friends. When viewing a category, I have found that the best way to get past the crappy software that makes up 80% of the freeware world (no offense), you should try the “downloaded” and “best rated” filters. This usually gets you to the cream of the crop in any category, saving quite a bit of discouraging search time.
I highly, highly recommend this site to all Windows Mobile users out there. WM Freeware is my top resource for obtaining news about the best, most exciting Windows Mobile games, apps, themes, and utilities to date. Set up in a blog-like fashion, this site has more power than a mere software database–it will get you excited about your WM device. It does this by finding some real software gems and sticking them together in one place so that you don’t have to go looking for them. For an example of what I’m referring to, check out the themes page that WM freeware regularly updates.
One of the biggest advantages of this website is that all of the posts you read are accompanied by some real, useful content that gives you a good understanding of what the software is good for, and how well it operates. For example, I was browsing the Media category and came across an app called myPlayer–which apparently plays Hulu and sites like it without a flash player. Clicking to view the post, I get a set of screenshots, a requirements list, an overview of what myPlayer does, a download link, and even a video of myPlayer in action! No further research required; WM Freeware has given me everything I need.
Although it sounds suspiciously like the first website, Freeware PPC is an entity all by itself. I will not say that it’s got more software or a better layout than its competitor website–but I will mention two nice things that Freeware PPC does offer which hopefully will improve your searching.
First, Freeware PPC has sub-categories. This means that when you click on a category like “Communication”, Freeware PPC pares things down into smaller, more refined categories as shown on the right. Although you may overlook this as a trivial feature, it’s increased my search speed by probably 20%.
The other thing I think is worth mentioning that Freeware PPC also has a “New Software” block on the right of the page. If you’re a relatively knowledgeable WM user and you want to see what’s been happening lately, a quick glance to this section will give you links to all the newest freeware that Freeware PPC has to offer. Overall I use this as a backup for Freeware PocketPC (mentioned above) because I hate having to deal with the ads, but your opinion may differ.
I’m putting this one in here for those of you that are always on the go. Windows mobile devices have a relatively well known Achilles heel that has haunted me for years–using Activesync to install programs from a PC is not a pleasant experience. The software leaves crap all over my computer, sometimes creates its own program folder, and half the time something fails in the install.
Pocket PC Freeware.Mobi is the solution to this common problem–it’s a website that gives you .cab files rather than .exe files for the Windows Mobile software you get. Think of CAB files as installers that run on Windows Mobile, much like .exe files install programs on a PC. When you download a program to your Windows Mobile device straight from this website, just click on it to install to a preferred directory. That’s it–no PC required.
Pocket PC Freeware.mobi was specifically designed with your convenience in mind. As you can tell, it’s not flashy or loaded with ads. In fact, it looks downright terrible on a PC browser, because it was formatted for your mobile device. Long story short, as long as you have an internet connection on your WM device, you have access to these applications.
I’d also like to draw your attention to OpnMarket, an app by PPCfreeware.mobi that you actually download to your WM device. Once you have the application, it gives you mobile access to hundreds of games and applications for your device. The best part? No PC required at all.
Here’s another database full of freeware for your device, complete with a rating system, relatively clean layout, and a few other neat features. Unlike most other Windows Mobile freeware websites, this site does boast a pretty useful “PC Software” category containing media encoders, remote interface programs, and other little PC goodies that make your WM device more powerful.
I would like to note that there is a mobile version of the Pocket PC Freeware website that could get you out of a pinch if you’re on the road and need an app, but I still like OpnMarket better. Thankfully, there is a “Latest additions” box front and center on the Pocket PC Freeware webpage which could be useful if you’d like to see whats new.
In my opinion, growing to be happy with Windows Mobile takes time and effort–but it’s worth it in the end. While you may spend hours customizing things, finding applications, and waiting for the “loading” icon to go away, I think that the Windows Mobile experience has as much as if not more power than competitor operating systems.
I’ve seen some really cool things done on Windows Mobile in the name of freeware–what about you? I’d love to hear your favorite freeware software or website in the comments section.
Note: MakeUseOf recently published an excellent guide for Windows Mobile users outlining some really cool things things that you can do with your phone. Download the guide for free here.