Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

Windows Mobile: storage cards and the Today screen

Posted by universalis on 13 June 2008

Sample Today screenThis is a technical posting of no interest to most users of Universalis, but I’ve put it here because it addresses a problem that has been repeatedly raised in Internet forums. Users of the downloadable Universalis for Windows Mobile have asked about it a couple of times, as well.

The question is: if you have a program that puts an item in the Today screen of your Windows Mobile device, can you install it on a storage card, to save space in the device’s main memory?

Often you’ll see people being advised that you can’t. The truth is actually a little more complicated. You can, but it isn’t always very convenient.

If you install a Today screen plug-in on your storage card, you’ll see it on your Today screen at first. But the first time you reset your device, the Today screen that appears after the reset won’t include that plug-in.

You can get the plug-in back by opening up the window that configures the Today screen. On the hand-held devices I’m familiar with, you do this with Start > Settings > Today > Items. Once you’ve opened that window, you don’t need to do anything with it (except confirm that your plug-in is listed as needing the display). Just close the window by pressing “OK”. This will make Windows Mobile rebuild the Today screen, and your plug-in will be included.

“This behavior is by design”, as Microsoft like to tell us. I think the rationale behind it is something like this:

  1. When your device wakes up from a reset, you want it to wake up fast.
  2. It would take time to decide whether a storage card is present, start it working, and see if there is anything on it.
  3. Windows Mobile doesn’t wait for the storage card, but starts building the Today screen at once.
  4. When it comes across a request for a Today screen plug-in that is on the storage card, it sees that the storage card isn’t ready yet, and silently ignores the request.

The reason things are different when you do Start > Settings > Today > Items > OK is that by then the storage card is alive and well, and so Today screen plug-ins that live on the storage card are fully accessible and can be included in the Today screen.

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