REDMOND, Wash., August 16, 1999 — When Microsoft asked customers for advice about how to improve its synchronization software for Windows CE-based Palm-size and Handheld PCs, the company got exactly what it requested. Although the company's synchronization software helped corporate and individual customers keep essential information with them at all times, customers found it difficult to install, especially on Windows NT. Microsoft responded to these needs with new synchronization technology that can be installed with as few as six mouse clicks, on any platform.
ActiveSync 3.0. -- with simplified installation, easier to use menus, and greatly improved speed and performance -- has been extremely well received by preview customers. Starting today, the software can be downloaded free of charge at http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/downloads/activesync.asp .
Prior versions of Windows CE synchronization software required installation of Dial-up Networking (DUN) or a Remote Access Server (RAS) to connect a PC with a Handheld PC or Palm-size PC. With ActiveSync 3.0, RAS or DUN connections are no longer necessary for fast, easy synchronization.
"Customers were forced to go through multiple steps to set up the RAS and DUN software that was needed to support the synchronization software," said Brian Shafer, Marketing Manager, Productivity Appliance Division at Microsoft. "With ActiveSync 3.0, that requirement has been removed, although customers can still use RAS or DUN if they choose."
A setup wizard guides customers through installing ActiveSync and setting up their mobile devices. A wizard also walks customers through several simple steps to connect their mobile devices to their PC, either by using a serial cable or an infrared port. Once ActiveSync has found the mobile device, the customer gets a confirmation that the connection has been established. It only takes 6 clicks of the mouse and less than 5 minutes for most customers to upgrade or set up a new system.
The first time a mobile device is connected to a PC, ActiveSync creates a "partnership" between the device and the PC. Once this partnership is established (a process that may require as little as one mouse click), customers can choose to synchronize with one or two PCs. ActiveSync also supports customers that have more than one device connected to the same PC.
Using ActiveSync, customers can choose which information they want to synchronize. If they want to synchronize their Microsoft Outlook Tasks but not their Contacts, they can, because ActiveSync allows them to select only the data they really need. Customers can achieve further customization by setting filters on portions of their data. For example, when synchronizing their calendar information, they may choose to synchronize only one or two prior weeks of appointments, and all future weeks, instead of their entire schedule.
ActiveSync 3.0 automatically senses when some software upgrades are installed on a PC. For example, if a customer has installed Personal Information Manager (PIM) upgrades on his or her PC, ActiveSync 3.0 will automatically synchronize with the new version, without the customer having to create a new partnership or perform other administrative tasks.
Once the connection and partnership have been established between the devices, setup is complete. By clicking "finish" at the end of the wizard installation, the system syncs and they're ready to go. The whole setup process usually takes less than 5 minutes.
Making the most of each port on a PC is important to customers. Because ActiveSync 3.0 continuously monitors the serial ports, it has the ability to release the port it uses if that port is needed by the other device. This allows customers to add another type of serial device, such as a digital camera, to their PC, enabling sharing of a single serial or infrared port among numerous devices.
The new version of ActiveSync provides faster performance. Customers can set the connection speed of their Handheld or Palm-size PCs to any speed they want--from 19.2 to 115 kilobits per second--and ActiveSync will automatically detect the appropriate required PC port speed . This ensures the fastest communications speed possible and avoids the complications of adjusting port speeds and rebooting the PC.
Even faster communications are available, too, because ActiveSync 3.0 supports Ethernet connections. In addition to modems, wireless connections are also supported via data-capable cell phones. Consequently, if a customer is away from home or office and carrying only a Handheld or Palm-size PC, they can use a cell phone to dial up via a modem or use an Ethernet connection to access their PC and synchronize their information.
To ensure that customers will be able to use ActiveSync with the software they have on their PCs now, as well as with whatever they install in the future, ActiveSync 3.0 is compatible with earlier and current versions of Microsoft Office, Windows and Outlook. In addition, ActiveSync is compatible with all versions of the Palm-sized PC and versions 2 and 3 of the Handheld PC. ActiveSync has also been localized so that it will operate in the same language as the user's PC; versions in French, Japanese, Italian, German, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese will be released in the near future.
Customers may download ActiveSync 3.0 free of charge, or purchase a CD from the Web site for a nominal fee that covers costs of CD duplication and shipping. The CD includes ActiveSync 3.0, Microsoft Schedule+, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 for Mobile Channels synchronization, Windows NT Service Pack 4 and Microsoft Pocket Streets 3.0. ActiveSync will also ship with new Palm-size PCs and Handheld PCs beginning this fall.
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