Sony Ericsson's Software Quality

Float's Mobile AgentFloat's Mobile AgentI'm sticking with Sony Ericsson Phones for a while now. The phones had some issues in the first 2 generations, but after that they worked smoothly. The other reason was Float’s Mobile Agent – a lightweight sync & management application for the Kxx series. Unfortunately the software does not work anymore with my new P1 and does not seem to be developed any further. So I had to go with the shipped software – here is where my journey begins. (more after the link)

First I tried the Exchange ActiveSync thingy. This one has to be installed on the phone itself and will contact the Exchange server by itself to synchronize contacts, mails etc. Well... did not work. No meaningful error message has been presented, the log file just said "disconnected" - and yeah, all settings were correct. Perhaps it requires some extensions to be active on the Exchange-Server side - OWA was active here. No Idea.

Ok, so let's install that grumpy PC Suite - I still remember it from 6 years ago where it installed a java com proxy in order to connect with the phone over Bluetooth. Yeah, Bluetooth … did not work at all. I can pair the phone with my vista machine so that COM and some other services are available. Unfortunately I have to use the Bluetooth-Stack provided my Microsoft. This one won't provide any advanced services such as OBEX etc. It seems to be a problem for the Sony Ericsson’s PC Suite which won't connect via Bluetooth to my phone without those fancy pants.

SE Sync ButtonSE Sync ButtonFine, USB Cable it is. Connected, pushed the big green sync button - nothing happens. About 5 Minutes later the sync window pops up out of nothing. Wow, that was fast, 5 minutes to react to a freaking button press? Ok, I must admit I had that Vista Mobile Center thingy installed. After I got rid of that one the sync window would come up as soon I press the button, not ages later.

Anyway, sync did not work at all with the default settings. It complained about the phone not being found. Not found? WTF! I have the file manager open next to this window and I am able to copy stuff from / to the phone. Oh, by the way, the fancy Sony Ericsson file manager won't allow you to create new folders (operation not supported). So, yeah, you can head over to the phone and make a folder over there, but then you will have to reconnect the phone to the pc in order to flush the INTERNAL PC CACHE! So, back to my synch issues, it turns out one has to use the very SMALL button next to the big green one in order to get into the "extended synch mode". Once you specify your outlook folders manually, synching works ... well... without any problems (can’t believe I said that!).

Out of curiosity I also tried the backup function. This will allow you to dump all settings (Contacts, Memory-Stick, and installed software etc.) into a local backup file. Guess what? Yes, did not work. The backup process is being executed in two passes - one in the normal operation mode and the second in some kind of special backup mode which will be selected on reboot – kinda like a debug mode or something. The display will show a message about the backup process being executed right now and nothing more will happen. The Progress bar will not even move a pixel!

Phew! So much fun from such a little phone. Can there be even more? YES! HELL YEAH! I booted my PC today and have been confronted with the Explorer context menus not working anymore. Once I right click on a desktop icon or just the desktop itself, the explorer process would stall and needed to be killed. Yay! So much bang for your bucks! Ok, I'm kinda used to this kind of problems so I almost instantly suspected the Shell Extensions to be the bottom of this issue. After fiddling with SysInternals Autoruns and NirSoft’s ShellExView and some manual Windows Registry works I managed to get rid of the context menu handlers and the fancy “My Phone” icon in my “MyComputer” view. Oh, if you are looking for Shell-Folders registered to show in “MyComputer”, take a look at “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\MyComputer\NameSpace” – You will need to remember the GUID which you want to delete in order to cleanup your registry from the InProc & Co handlers.

So, here is my little rant. My conclusion: Sony/Ericcson’s programmers and/or the product managers are a bunch of complete morons. Compare your work to Float’s Mobile Agent. It’s small, fast and don’t require bloated background services to be installed.

Hung WordHung WordI still suffer from one side effect, all Office 2007 applications take ages to launch. For instance whenever I start Outlook or Word, the application window will show up almost instantly but the application will remain blocked until some time passes. From now on everything works as it should, but it sucks some major arse!

Anyway, don't get me wrong, the phone itself is very nice. At least once you convince it to cooperate with your pc. On the other hand I am not so sure about my next phone being a SE again.