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XDA-developers Special Edition ROM v1.2

This v1.2 release cleans up a few things, and includes a whole new load of freeware tools. We added a two today screen plugins we liked. We're now officially out of space (although we haven't been using the built-in ROM compression on the files we added, so theoretically more would have fit). This is the last release of the special edition ROM that is based on PPC2002.

This whole Special Edition ROM thing started when we wanted access to some of the files which reside in the ROM of the device, so we could understand the RIL (Radio Interface Layer) mechanism better. The PocketPC OS wouldn't give these files to us, claiming we didn't really need them since they were in ROM. So we started digging into how these files were stored, and ended up understanding the ROM layout enough for us to be able to create our own ROM images. This page describes our own ROM image, which we dubbed 'XDA developers Special Edition ROM'.

At the time we're writing this (July 2003), test versions of Pocket PC 2003, the next release of the Operating System, are floating around. Despite their presence, we feel this ROM is still the coolest thing you could possibly run on this device, and we feel it should remain the default ROM to upgrade to for all HTC Phone Edition users that want a stable system. Our Special Edition ROM is based on the O2 3.17.03 ROM, and contains all almost all of its features (except maybe some annoying ones) plus a lot more. Since the O2 ROM we based our ROM on is copyrighted, we cannot distribute the new ROM. So instead, we distribute the tools to make your own if you just add an O2 image. See the 'Where do I download?' paragraph towards the end of this page for details.

Band switching tool included

900/1900 phones have a special tab in the Phone section of the control panel to switch between 900 and 1900 bands. We have included our own tool bandswitch.exe|, which is available as 'GSM Band' in the Programs menu. Our tool can switch between all three possibilities supported by the device: 900, 1900 and 900/1800 dual band. No guarantees as to whether your device will really be able to use 1900 if it's a PW10A or 1800 if it's a PW10B, but you can at least try now.


Once you're done flashing and boot our special edition ROM you'll immediately notice the boot splash screen no longer displays graphics from suffering mobile telecommunications carriers or strange intermediary companies.

After you're done booting, you'll maybe notice the absence of the wonderful tutorial on how to cut and paste using the stylus. If you need to be taught how to cut and paste every time you cold-boot your device, maybe you should not install this ROM. Other changes include the fact that by default, the device wakes up thinking it is using Central European Time and uses a 24-hour clock. Date format is set to dd-MMM-yy and all keys but the power key are locked when the device is off. All of these settings can ofcourse be changed back if you liked 'em better the way they were, we just changed the defaults.

Removes SIMlock!


One key feature should be mentioned first: if your phone is SIMlocked, a modest window will be displayed during this first boot. It asks you whether you want your phone to be unlocked. The new ROMs offered the wireless modem capability, and we figured if this program could talk to the modem, our new and small unlock program XDAunlock could too. (Please note that XDAunlock will only work on device with a PPC2002 ROM that has the Wireless Modem feature). If your phone was already unlocked, nothing will be displayed, and the device boots normally.

AutoConfig: provider settings

The AutoConfig app runs at cold boot. In O2 ROMs this app would not only set the provider-specific settings such as the GPRS connections, but it would also install the 'Action Engine' framework.

"Action Lock is a software utility that enables a wireless carrier to send an SMS command to a device to remotely execute commands on the device. [[ ... ]] These actions can be performed "silently" without providing any visual or audio notification.

We have no indication they ever used it, but away it went. We don't like stuff happening behind our backs, and the thing was huge. And because it is copied to RAM instead of ran from ROM like all the software we installed, it managed to take up its humongous size twice: once in ROM and once in RAM. We took the O2 list of providers, and added settings provided by the readers of our forum to the AutoConfig list of providers, and sorted them by country. GPRS settings for the following providers are in the ROM:

  • Austria
  * ONE
  * T-Mobile
  • Belgium
  * Proximus
  • Czech Republic
  * Eurotel
  * T-Mobile
  • France
  * Orange
  • Germany
  * D1
  * O2
  * O2 LOOP (LOOP Rates
  • Ireland
  * O2
  • Italy
  * TIM
  • Netherlands
  * O2
  • Singapore
  * Starhub
  • Sweden
  * Vodafone
  • Thailand
  * AIS
  • United Arab Emirates
  * Etisalat
  • UK
  * O2
  • USA
  * T-Mobile

We discovered the damn AutoConfig tool has a hardcoded limit of only 18 providers, so we can't add any more providers with this version of AutoConfig. AutoConfig will ask you to reboot after selecting a provider. You'll need a quick reboot once AutoConfig is done: if your provider isn't on the list, and you leave after unselecting 'I want to do auto configuration now...', our version of the welcome program| will boot anyway to get some settings straight.

[2] Once the machine is started again and displays the Today screen, you'll notice the XDA-developers theme. We went for a simple and modest design, no bright distracting colors, no clutter. It is available seperately ( ) (but it's not the real thing if the Special Edition ROM isn't underneath...).

Lots of cool freeware installed

The little thunderbolt in the top-right corner controls 'PocketNav' ( ), written by Scott Seligman. We took the liberty of installing it in Startup for you: it allows easy task switching as well as 'Close All', and 'Close all but active'. (Note: PocketNav sometimes hides the 'close' button for no apparent reason, just press directly left of the thunderbolt, and you'll hide the current application.)

A Japanese freeware software author by the name of Tomoaki Nakashima has had a big influence on the looks of this edition of the Special Edition ROM. With the help of his 'tdClock' ( ), the date and time are now displayed differently on the Today screen. As you can see, a single glance is now enough to tell the time. And his plugin 'tdLaunch' ( ) displays the field of small icons displayed below the owner information. Using it, we created links for anything remotely useful that is not already on the Today screen or in the start menu. (Note: since tdClock does not go to the the clock and alarm settings when you press it, we've created a clock shortcut as the top-left icon in the tdLaunch area. 'clock.exe' does not come with a built-in icon, so we apologize it looks not much like a clock.)

The 'Contacts' and 'Calendar' buttons are both mapped to a handy small application called 'JogButton' ( ), which cycles through multiple applications if you keep it pressed, and starts the one displayed when you release the button. If you just press it once, you still get the contacts or calendar. The 'tools' menu that appears while you press one of the buttons allows you to change all JogButton settings for that button. (We patched it to create the ability to use JogButton on both buttons)

In the bottom right-hand corner of the screen is a small icon which belongs to 'PhonExt' ( ), written by OABsoftware. We've placed PhonExt in the startup folder. It gives you the ability to assign individual ring tones to your contacts, as well as to whole contact categories. PhonExt also allows for single handed dialing. For this purpose, it comes straight after 'Contacts' on the left hardware button. And while we're on the topic of single-handed dialing: 'D9' ( ), a utility, allows you to dial with one hand using the same method used on many other mobile phones. It is mapped right after 'Calendar' on the right hardware button.

Then if you click 'Programs', you'll see we installed a truckload of new applications. We tried selecting freeware applications which are potentially useful for developers and for those generally technically inclined. All the software included is presented in an installed state, meaning it is ready to go and needs no setting up. Since the applications are in ROM, they will not show up under 'Remove Programs', and they will not use any RAM on your device unless you run them.


On all these programs, make sure you try clicking help from the start menu while the program is active. This will often bring up a user manual that is not on the program menu. Many of the programs we installed have many more features than are immediately apparent.

The link called 'File Explorer' in 'Programs' now links to 'Total Commander' ( ) (written by Christian Ghisler), which is far superior to the Windows explorer in every possible way. If you really must use the original file explorer, it's still in the Windows directory as 'fexplore.exe'. We've included two more free file browsers we liked: 'dTree' ( ) (by Derago Mobile Software) for its nice tree view and un-cluttered display, and 'File Commander' ( ) for its integrated FTP functionality and the fact that it may please those that prefer a Norton Commander feel.

We haven't gone so far as to replace the Internet Explorer link, but we installed 'ftxPBrowser' ( ) (written by Toshiyuki Furukawa). It's a web browser that works with multiple tabs, and it's really much nicer than Pocket Internet Explorer for general browsing, once you get the hang of it.

The calculator application that comes with Pocket PC 2002 is pretty useless as a serious calculator, so we replaced the calculator link with one that points to 'Eval' ( ),

a wonderful calculator (written by Jonathan Sachs) that should please both scientific and programmer users. (We wouldn't know why, but the original 'calc.exe' is still in the Windows directory in case you need it).



'Ephemeris' ( ), by the same author, is a program to calculate the positions of the sun and the moon.

We packed 'imov Messenger Basic' ( ), which allows instant messaging on jabber, Yahoo, ICQ, AIM and MSN. Also included is 'PocketChat' ( )', a simple but adequate IRC client. We also added Tomoaki Nakashima's 'nPOP' ( ) as an alternative POP/SMTP mail client which is more server-oriented than the built-in client.

'PHM Registry Editor', 'Data Sources', 'Device Manager' and 'Task Manager', all written by Phillipe Majerus, should help you keep an eye on what's going on inside the system. FunnySnake's 'Easytweak ( ) will allow you to perform a few registry tweaks in a more user-friendly way. 'dbView' ( ) by Kenny Goers lets you manipulate the contents of system databases. 'Screen Capture' ( ) from allows for the creation of screenshots on the device itself, and the 'ssnap' ( ) (System Snapshot) program allows you to create a file which holds the entire registry as well as file and database listings to allow for easy comparisons. (We use it all the time to see what changed in the filesystem and registry after we installed something). 'CabInst' ( ), by the same authors, allows you to set the installation directory when CAB files are executed on your device.


Also included is PocketConsole, a console driver made by SymbolicTools that allows command-line programs to run. PocketCMD ( ) gives you a shell much like on a regular windows machine, and we've installed 'netstat', 'net', 'ping', 'route' and 'telnet', as well as command line tools for manipulating running tasks: 'tlist' and 'kill'.

'vxUtil' ( ) combines many handy network functions in a GUI application. 'TascalSearch' ( ) (created by TascalSoft) has been installed to replace the Microsoft find utility for searching for files. 'Byte Counter' is merely a link to a handy traffic-measurement utlity that was already present in the Windows directory, but that few people knew about. Last but not least we included a VNC Viewer client ( ) needed for working remotely on machines which have the VNC server application installed.


A very nice addition is 'PocketDIVX' ( ), a player which plays a large number of audio and video formats. We made it the default player for MP3 files because it has a much more responsive slider, and better overall features than Media Player when it comes to playing audio. PocketDIVX comes complete with its own playlist editor. We've set it up so that the unit doesn't turn itself off while something is playing. When you press the left button on the rocker keypad, you toggle the screen on and off (leaving the unit playing but using less batteries). Right is mapped to 'next track', and up and down turn the audio volume up and down respectively.

[8]'Frequency Tuner' (PAGE CONTAINS A VIRUS: -JS:Cruzer-B Trojan Horse- Found by Avast on 3/3/2009, HTML link has a "Q" added to it to 'break' the link) ( ) (use by J. Bouwhuis turns your XDA into a very nice tuning device for musical instruments. Has the ability to create, load and save 'Temperament' profiles, and a piano as well as a guitar display. OwlSeeker solutions's 'Ruler' ( - updated 3/3) simply displays a ruler on the screen so you can measure things in either inches or centimeters, and Jonathan Sachs's 'StopTime' ( ) is a very feature-rich stopwatch that can be used for any kind of time-measurements. It even has a mode to turn the XDA into a $500 flashlight by setting the screen to full-bright white.

So where do I Download?

We've only ever distributed an mkrom package to create this ROM. Others have been kind enough to add a ROM image and offer the complete file for your convenience.