Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Way to go, ActiveSync 3.0!

I recently purchased a Texas Instruments TI-86 graphing calculator, and soon after purchased a cable to allow me to connect my calculator to my desktop. This allowed me to transfer programs back and forth to expand the capabilities of my calculator. I was a little surprised at first when I plugged the cable into the serial port and the calculator and ActiveSync prompted me that it did not recognize the device that was attempting to use the serial port. It then prompted me to either free the serial port or ignore the device. I obviously chose to free the port and voila, it worked! I must say, ActiveSync is looking mighty impressive.

There are still some parts of ActiveSync that resemble, if not exactly duplicate, what was available in Windows CE Services. The Application Manager is nearly identical, if not exactly alike. The configuration dialog boxes regarding file conversions are similar, and you can see the Device to Desktop dialog box in Figure F.

FIGURE F

I don't think much has changed here but, then again, I see no reason for change. (click for larger image)

The window that manages synchronization conflicts and how to respond to that conflict (such as two items being changed and which item is to be given priority) seems to have been clarified, as shown in Figure G.

FIGURE G

I wish all conflicts in life were this easy to solve. (click for larger image)

As seen in Figure H, the concise dialog box dedicated to configuring the connection settings is easy to manipulate. By using the Get Connected button, a simple wizard easily configures your two computers to connect, making this once arduous task easier than ever.

FIGURE H

Imagine that -- no rebooting to use your serial ports. (click for larger image)

Better timing

I especially like how ActiveSync lets you choose which services you want synchronized. From what I remember, Windows CE Services, or at least the first versions of it, would attempt to synchronize everything contained in the desktop version of Outlook at the first synchronization. I remember having to make a mad dash to cancel the synchronization task in order to finish selecting the services I did or didn't want. Whether or not my memory fails me here is really irrelevant since ActiveSync does exactly what it should do and does it with ease.

My vote

ActiveSync may appear to be somewhat small and without much meat to it. ActiveSync may not be flawless, it's by far a leap in the right direction for Microsoft. This is one hurdle that they've managed to surmount in bringing you the capabilities of Windows CE with even less effort from you.

You should definitely upgrade.