One thing that has always confused me about the Windows Mobile platform is why the close button (that little red X in the corner) doesn't actually close the app but instead sends it to the background.

It turns out that there is a reason for the functionality that seems pretty valid (even if the design isn't)

IMO the reasoning isn't quite valid as there are a number of occasions where this behavior causes problems (many of which are documented in the comments on the above post) but at least knowing why it does it helps to understand what happens when, and what you need to do about it.

Like so many computer problems (it doesn't matter what platform) the problem is solved with more memory and more processing power - but on the SmartPhone / PocketPC platform that has some pretty negative side-effects (even with devices like the HTC TyTN and currently rumored Athena) or smarter management algorithms that can take into account the availability of alternate storage and the capabilities of apps that can correctly maintain state when switched in and out of memory.

Not surprisingly there are a number of apps to help solve the problem for users who don't agree with the minimize rather than close behavior

  • SMClose has to be the simplest solution. This free app runs at startup and re-purposes the little X to make it a close button.
  • WisBar Lite is a bit more sophisticated, offering a number of additional functions on the button (and it's the stepping stone to a larger suite of products)
  • SPB Pocket Plus is my weapon of choice (I use most of their suite of tools)
  • and there are more... just go browse your favorite WM forums ;)