Tanker Bob's Essential Pocket PC Software List
Updated 1/5/2008

After reviewing my website statistics, I noticed that a lot of folks search for lists of software essentials. I put together a list for the Palm OS last year, but didn't feel qualified to comment on the Windows Mobile world until recently. Please recognize that these lists should be driven by personal requirements and use habits. My usage leans heavily to Personal Information Manager use--schedules, contacts, etc.--and consulting reference material.

As hardware capabilities have grow, so have the software that leverages that hardware. Some reference works top 700MB, but often just the accumulation of them overwhelms smaller storage cards. The old saw from the network world holds on handhelds: data is like a gas--it expands to fill the available space. With the cost of storage cards dropping continually, I recommend that you buy the biggest cards that you can afford. Trust me, you'll need the space sooner or later.

There are a number of programs that I find indispensible for writing reviews, etc., that most folks wouldn't normally need. Those programs are included on the longer list of all my apps on the PPC software page, but not included below. I've tried to stick to general or common requirements in building this list.

1) Pocket Informant 2007 from WebIS Software - Although the built-in Windows PIM software will get the job done for most, those with demanding requirements on their schedules and/or large numbers of contacts and tasks need software that handles the interrelationships between all the parts well.

2) BibleReader+ by Olive Tree Bible Software - I had two goals when first entering the PDA world. First was organizing my schedule. I also wanted to have God's Word available with me everywhere. With my switch to Windows Mobile, picking my Bible software for the new platform couldn't have been easier. Olive Tree's readers are free, and all the databases work on both platforms so my entire collection transferred effortlessly. Olive Tree constantly expands their offerings while updating their older ones with new capabilities. The Complete Word Study Bible, GRAMCORD Lite Greek New Testament, parsed Hebrew Masoretic Text Old Testament, and parsed Greek Septuagint with high resolution original language fonts stand at the top of their class and look great on a VGA screen. My current collection takes up over 150MB on my SD card.

3) MessagEase for PPC from Exideas or CalliGrapher 8.2 from Phatware. Like Palm, the standard Windows Mobile input methods leave much to be desired.  I interchangably use both of these systems. CalliGrapher is an Interesting input method that does sophisticated character/handwriting recognition. It boasts advanced fuzzy logic and neural net techniques. Worked incredibly well after its initial training period. MessagEase is an alternate keypad system that's fast and accurate. I like and use them both, so put them together in this list.

4) SKTools by SK Software - Actually the first software that I bought for my X50v. My many years of familiarity with desktop Windows told me to tend to registry and general maintenance early and often. SKTools' power and ease of use made it an obvious choice. Good move on my part, because every software install leaves garbage in the Windows Mobile registry. Latest version even has the capability to free up RAM that has been leaked. Awesome!

5) Total Commander CE by Christian Ghisler - Since Windows Mobile has a real file system, one needs an excellent file manager at an unbeatable price (free). I've been using Total Commander (then Windows Commander) since Windows 3.1--you count the years. The PPC version can link to the desktop version through ActiveSync using a free plugin. Support ZIP files, two-window view, tree view, network drives, registry editing, ftp, etc.

6) iLauncher from SBSH Software - Coming from the Palm world, I expected access to my applications with one or two taps at most. iLauncher accomplishes that and more, placing most used apps on the bottom tray bar for one-tap instant access no matter what tab I have displayed. It also presents battery and memory status, even placing one meter of the user's choice on the top bar. iLauncher also has a Safe Mode which will  help you recover from an unbootable situation, usually due to a bad system application. Version 3.1 includes an excellent task manager plus running program icons on the task bar for quick task switching. It also has built-in screenshot capability. This is one of the handiest applications on the market, and it just keeps getting better.

7) SplashID by SplashData - Security is high on my list of requirements. I like to keep my financial data and myriad of passwords handy, and encryption keeps them safe. Easy to use and comes with a large number of templates for different data types, plus icon support for quick identification of your key entries.

8) iSilo from iSilo. From downloading the daily news to keeping reference material handy, iSilo carries the water. It handles most of my Reformed Theology reference library, including the complete Calvin's Commentaries (25MB), as well as the CIA World Fact Book 2005 with flags and maps (29.3MB) and Merck Diagnostic Manual with images (50.7MB).

9) PocketBreeze from SBSH Software - Windows Mobile users live off of their Today screens, so that's where critical information needs to be. Nothing does a better or more flexible job of presenting complex, editable schedules and tasks on the Today screen than PocketPlus. Integrates seamlessly with Pocket Informant and their own ContactBreeze to empower the busy user. PocketBreeze also supports custom tabs, in which you can put Today screen apps, thereby save room on the Today screen and pushing PB into the realm of a system application. As of version 5.4, it will display daily weather forecast information on each day title line. Very cool.

10) SlovoEd Mirriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition  from penreader and WordNetCE 2.7  by Troy Simpson - A dictionary and thesaurus stand as the core reference pair needed by every literate member of any culture. SlovoEd's Webster Collegiate is the best dictionary that I've found for me so far for the Windows Mobile platform. It has yet to let me down. The WordNet 2.1 database has matured into a very nice and very sophisticated thesaurus-like work. Troy Simpson has done an excellent job of bringing its power to the Windows Mobile platform.

11) CAB Install  from SK Tools - Free, must-have utility that allows you to target the install location for CAB file installs on your PPC. Most installs from CABs will simply go in RAM, but CAB Install lets you install the application to any place you desire on your PPC. Using it, you can install programs downloaded directly onto your device from the Internet without needing an intervening PC.

Bonus Category
And now for the Not Essential But WOW! category. Here's a couple of programs that I love and use all the time, but realistically could live without if I had to--but why would I?

WeatherPanel  from Marsware - I love weather and this is an outstanding weather tool for the Today screen that automatically updates over the Internet whenever a connection is available. It has a simple script language that makes it easy to customize displays, or you can take advantage of the many custom layouts available on their wiki site. This is the most comprehensive weather app available for Windows Mobile. I run it as a custom tab under PocketBreeze. Please note that you can only buy a registration code through the marsware website. Other sites can accept money for the program, but you won't get a code as a result. They will refund your money. The program is still supported, though, although the developer himself disappears for months at a time from the forums. As evidence of the program's continued support, the moon forecast source changed its format on January 1st, 2006, and WeatherPanel was updated accordingly.

Lexipedia by Revolutionary Software Front - How about the entire Wikipedia database (without graphics) on your handheld? If you have a spare 712MB of card space, RSF has a deal for you. I like their implementation because it uses a fuzzy "sounds like" search system. Talk about the power of information at your fingertips! Unfortunately, their database files haven't been updated for over a year as of this pages update date, which is an eternity in Wikipedia time.