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Windows CEntral
October 1999

Free upgrades and other good stuff

Just when you thought Microsoft had based their profit strategy on charging outrageous prices for system and software upgrades, along comes the latest software updates for Windows CE. While they add new functionality, make massive improvements in usability and stability, and make Windows CE more fun to use, the best part is that they're free. I want to dedicate this month's column to bringing our readers up-to-date on the software upgrades for all versions of Windows CE, because of their wide range of added functionality, and because they're hidden all over the Web!

ActiveSync 3.0
First and foremost, run-don't walk-to Microsoft's newest desktop software for synchronization and communication to the desktop has made such strides from the previous versions of the software that it is almost unrecognizable. The latest version boosts the maximum communication speed up to 115Kbps, has a friendly user interface and a very simple set up process. In addition, I've received numerous email messages from Windows CEntral readers stating that it solved their inability to connect to Windows NT desktops as well as jumping for joy that I could use my modem and synchronize my device at the same time. The 3.3MB download is available at the above URL, or can be shipped to you on CD-ROM for a modest fee.

While you're at the Microsoft CE site, click on add-ons->downloads for a complete list of Microsoft's stash of free downloads. Expedia PocketStreets and PowerToys are among the "must-haves" to add mobile mapping capability and a number of nice operating system enhancements; while the Microsoft Windows CE team earns a huge slap on the wrist for only making the Plus! pack available to HPC Pro users. This speaks poorly of the Washington crew for those of us that just shelled out a pretty penny for the newest color Palmsize PCs.

Device-specific updates

And speaking of Palmsize PCs, users of these devices are the latest to receive upgrades, since 65,000 color capability is added to the Compaq Aero 2100 line ( and the HP Jornada 420 (http:// Both of the manufacturers have also chosen to bundle a set of additional applications to the patch, but Compaq gets extra kudos for not charging for the upgrade, while HP demands US$64 for their "V3 PAC" that also includes a 16MB CompactFlash card.

While the HPC Pro line, as a whole, has not required a software revision, Vadem ( has delivered updated video and memory card drivers and Sharp has a slew of patches for their various devices. And the standard HPC line has a single service pack upgrade. Also, many manufacturers offer upgrades for the software bundles that came with your Windows CE device. Check your device manufacturer's web site for more information.

3rd party applications
If you thought mobile channels were a great idea, but got peeved at Microsoft because the technology never had a chance at wide-spread implementation, download the free Avantgo client and access over a thousand channels of mobile news and information. (Including our own Daily Pen News at!) If you never got on the Mobile Channel kick, Avantgo offers mobile Internet information by connecting to the Web whenever you synchronize your device and pulling HTML content into a proprietary browser. While this is different from the standard web browser method of "connect & browse," the automated system is far more suitable for a docking station environment. Microsoft's investment in the company assures the future of the technology, and Palm's counter investment assures that the technology will grow.

Saving the best for last, On The Go Software (, makers of the popular QuickenExpensable, have finally announced PocketQuicken, the Windows CE counterpart to desktop Quicken. While not an upgrade, this long sought after financial assistant will allow you to enter checking, credit card, and cash transactions on the go, then synchronize with your PC to keep your accounts up to date. Upon the first synchronization, your Quicken categories and classes are transferred to your Win CE device, allowing QuickFill and memorized transactions to be recorded with only two taps of the pen. On subsequent syncs, account information (including contact names and numbers and ending balances) is transferred back to your device, so you always have the latest information. The software supports Quicken 99 and 2000 and will have PIN code protection in case your device is misplaced or stolen.

Any way you slice it, we Windows CE users have a lot of free software available to us if we know where to find it. Frequerntly check your device manufacturer's web site - no matter how old your device is; you might find a new application that breathes new life into your old machine!

-Dan Hanttula

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