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By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
 All Rights Reserved
A member of the Talksites Family of Websites

Windows and Windows CE are trademarks of Microsoft
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Current Status of Communications and Networking
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 2001
Revised 11/18/2001

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What You can Do...

Currently the Pocket PC 2002 offers the most sophisticated communications options of any PDA available today.  These features include support for PPP, TCP/IP, Ethernet 10baseT, 100BaseT, 802.11b,GPRS, CDPD, modem and Virtual Private Networking.  With all of these features you can connect to the internet or your corporate network easily.

Networking

Currently Microsoft supports 10baseT NE-2000 Ethernet cards right out of the box. There are other vendors that offer 100baseT Ethernet cards as well. I have a list of compatible PC Cards and CompactFlash Cards.  Also, there are 3rd party 802.11b PC Cards and CompactFlash Cards as well. Unfortunately, Microsoft does not offer basic utilities for using networking such as Netstat or Winipcfg. So basic functions like releasing a DHCP assigned IP address require the user to know to remove their card, manually enter an IP address in, insert the card, then remove the card and reconfigure it to use DHCP.  Further they do not offer a utility to see the DHCP assigned IP address, DNS server addresses or WINS server addresses. 

Troubleshooting Connections

Currently Microsoft offers no troubleshooting tools such as Ping, Tracert or DNSlookup with the Pocket PC 2002, Pocket PC 2000 or any Handheld PC. I believe this is Microsoft's biggest weakness in their communications architecture.  Without these tools, users have no way to check their settings and confirm basic communications.  Right now the best workaround is to get VxUtil from a 3rd party.

Connection Manager

In the Pocket PC 2002, Microsoft introduced the Connection Manager. The Connection Manager is used to configure the connections to the internet and corporate networks using PPP or a network card. Microsoft's intention was to help users manager their connections from a central spot so they would not have to configure proxy servers in each application.  Their approach to profiles ignores the most common item that users need to change when dialing their corporate network - the area code. Further, you have to setup your connections that you want to synchronize with under the Work settings in order to sync. If you don't then you will connect ok but not be able to sync.

Support

Microsoft offers no support for any Pocket PC or Handheld PC for free. The OEMs are responsible for supporting the Pocket PC or Handheld PC. Right now I am not aware of any support by OEMs for any communications or networking features.  I do not believe that Microsoft or the OEMs will be as successful in selling Pocket PCs to corporations without supporting their implementation in their environment.  

Conclusion

Overall I am excited to see the great communications features available for the Pocket PC 2002.  However I am disappointed that Microsoft does not offer the critical utilities required to manage all kinds of network connections.  Without these utilities, users are required to scrounge the internet to find them in order to diagnose their configurations.  I believe it is in Microsoft's best interest to offer these utilities in the ROM so all users have the same tools.  Further, Microsoft and the OEMs need to include documentation right out of the box explaining how to use the included networking features.  Further, Microsoft and the OEMs need to work out a method of support for configuring Pocket PCs and Handheld PCs for corporate users.   Without all of these changes, I believe that consumers will continue to see frustration in implementing communications with their Pocket PCs or Handheld PCs.  


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