Customizing Win Mobile 6.5 on a HTC phone

A quick guide to restoring the original Today screen on a HTC phone with Windows Mobile 6.5.

My readers will know I’m a huge fan of phone customization. Several years ago, I spent hours and hours creating Nokia Series 60 themes (with the slow and inefficient Nokia developer software called Carbide.ui). Today, my Doraemon and Hello Kitty themes are still being downloaded by the hundreds each month, even though I’ve long abandoned S60 theme creation. It was just too cumbersome and the S60 platform has hardly advanced in aesthetic appeal given today’s competition.

These days I’m more into Windows Phone skinning. I’m kinda lazy now, so I don’t really bother to figure out how to change detailed stuff like font colors or color schemes. A good background wallpaper will do wonders for your Windows Phone if you are using the latest Windows Mobile 6.5.

Here’s an example on my HTC Touch Diamond 2 using one of my favorite art masterpieces: Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth Of Venus.


As you can see on the Today screen, the top menu bar is now translucent, and the big font text interface is both simple, functional and goes well with most vertical images no matter whether they are dark or bright. Credit to the WM guys who decided on using soft drop shadows on white text!

However if you’re using a HTC phone with Windows Mobile 6.5, you’re not going to see the original Today interface. You’ll see HTC’s Sense (or TouchFlo) interface instead, which is an additional layer on top of WM 6.5 that changes the way you use the phone quite a bit.

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HTC has been improving their proprietary interface for the past few years. I like all the cool HTC additions like the weather forecast integration, stock price widget, the sliding bottom tab menu and the easy-to-customize Programs menu.

However, for a wallpaper nut, I prefer to have access to the original WM 6.5 Today screen. The big HTC digital clock just blocks out too much of the background. From my initial checks, the HTC Sense interface also takes up about 8% of additional system RAM.

It’s not easy to restore the original Today screen though, as the HTC customization is pretty deep. After I upgraded the ROM on my phone from WM 6.1 to WM 6.5, it took me nearly half an hour to find out how to. Here’s how you can do the same:

Step 1: Click on “Start” or the Windows key to enter the original Windows Mobile program browser with staggered icons. 


Step 2: Click the “Getting Started icon” and enter the menu.


Step 3: Look for the option “Set background” and click on it.


Step 4: Click “Change the background image”

Step 5: You’ll enter into the original Today settings menu (which you won’t find in the HTC Sense interface). Press the bottom tab “Items” and unselect “HTC Sense”. Select “Windows Default” instead.


Step 6: Voila! The original Today screen is now restored. In the same Today settings menu, you can choose either the default themes like purple Isaac Mizrahi theme or simply change the wallpaper with your own (eg. the Spidey painting below).

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For more screens of WM 6.5, check out this site. Please note different manufacturers of Windows Phones might have their own interfaces layered on top of WM, and this method might not work if you aren’t using a HTC phone. Another nice alternative for Windows Phone customization is the popular Spb Mobile Shell interface which I was using until WM 6.5 came along.

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