Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Way to go, ActiveSync 3.0!

Having done that, you would later have to manually connect to the Internet, which is a great annoyance. Once Internet Explorer 5.0 was released, some of you began to comment on how it had solved that problem. I myself installed Internet Explorer 5.0 and saw no more mysterious dial-up prompts.

That essentially wraps up all my headaches with Windows CE Services. But many of you had a more treacherous tale to tell. For those of you who use Windows NT, Microsoft has documented the need to reinstall the Service Pack to finish off the installation of Windows CE Services. Some of you, I've been told, have gone as far as formatting your hard drives and reinstalling Windows to get a successful installation of Windows CE Services. After reading many complaints and horror stories related to Windows CE Services, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Now that ActiveSync is available, you too need no longer be a statistic.

ActiveSync 3.0

With the entrance of ActiveSync 3.0, there's no need for Dial-Up Networking or sharing COM ports. According to Microsoft, we all also get enhanced synchronization speed, as well as simultaneous device and Internet connections. Sound too good to be true? Well, let's find out.

ActiveSync 3.0 is another Microsoft product that follows the trend of integrating every product with the Internet in some form or another. As you can see in Figure A, Microsoft has adopted the large, labeled buttons (commonly associated with Web browsers), finely graduated status bars, and sleek animations for the new ActiveSync interface.

FIGURE A

ActiveSync encompasses new features, new performance, and a new look. (click for larger image)

To indicate that synchronization is in progress, you can see in Figure B that the status of synchronization is indicated by both color and animation, letting you know instantly what's actually happening.

FIGURE B

Isn't that big whirling circle easier to see than that tiny tray icon? (click for larger image)

In Figure C, a handy, though sometimes quirky, status bar has been added to help estimate the progress of a synchronization task. Microsoft has also included a timer to estimate the remaining time in your synchronization task. This may prove useful when synchronizing large documents.

FIGURE C

This three seconds turned into twelve seconds, so don't bet your job on this timer. (click for larger image)

Some problems with AvantGo

One flaw that I've found to be somewhat annoying (although I'm not sure I can attribute this to a bug in ActiveSync) is the odd miscommunication in synchronization status between AvantGo and ActiveSync. For those of you unfamiliar with AvantGo, it's a product that allows individuals as well as large corporations to download Web pages, usually in "stripped" or "lite" versions, to Palm and Windows CE devices for offline and remote viewing.

The problem is that when I synchronize my Velo 500 with my desktop and AvantGo gets the latest information from the channels I've subscribed to, ActiveSync oddly reports that synchronization has completed. The synchronization icon appears in green and comes to a halt. The only indications that something is still happening are that the "Sync" button is shaded out and inoperable and the "Stop" button is able to be depressed, which is obvious in Figure D.