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By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
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My Perspective:
Let's Communicate with the rest of the Enterprise!
(As Published in Enterprise Solutions for Microsoft Windows CE)
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 1999      Chris@Pocket PC FAQ

 Version 1.00  Revised 12/4/99

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One of Windows CE's biggest strengths is the flexibility that it offers in communicating with other computers. PC Companions stand head and shoulders among other PDAs by offering the most complete set of communications methods. These methods include Serial, IrDA (Infrared), Modem, Ethernet, Campus Wireless and Nationwide Wireless. This article focuses on an overview of the communications capabilities of Windows CE and how they can be used to access resources in the enterprise. Note that generally PC Companion connectivity does not require changes in the configuration of the enterprise.

Communications Scenarios

All PC Companions support communications using the industry standard TCP/IP protocol. Windows CE PC Companions offer the ability to synchronize using ActiveSync via the serial port. This is just the beginning of the uses for the serial port. The serial port is a gateway to connections like local hosts, external modems and GPS units. IrDA offers the ability to easily connect to a desktop or notebook for synchronization. Further, you can beam contacts, Word, Excel or Voice Memos between two different PC Companions, even from a Handheld PC, Handheld PC Pro to/from a Palm-size PC. With a modem your horizons are broader, you can dial up to the Internet or corporate Intranet. (Note: Windows CE does not offer VPN support) With Ethernet you are a full-fledged member of your network. Ethernet can auto configure the network connection if you are using DHCP.

Wireless Connectivity

The H/PC Pros support a variety of different wireless connections. They can connect to existing campus wireless networks such as 802.11 or Proxim (OpenAir). This allows PC Companions to be full-fledged members of your network as if they were plugged in via Ethernet. The H/PC Pros also support nationwide wireless connections including Ardis, Bell South Wireless Data (Mobitex), CDPD, Cellular (AMPS, CDMA and GSM) as well as Ricochet. Users are able to switch on the fly between notebooks and H/PC Pros using the same account and PC Card in the event additional functionality is required. Overall, wireless solutions offer much longer runtimes on batteries than traditional notebooks.

Connectivity software

PC Companions offer the ability to connect via any method and offer these capabilities. You can use a PC Companion to connect to your Unix, IBM AS/400 and IBM Mainframe hosts using appropriate terminal emulation with 3rd party software. Further, your PC Companion can be used to send and receive e-mail from any SMTP/POP3 server and for the H/PC Pros via IMAP4. If you have Exchange, you can setup a 3rd party server for synchronizing mail and contacts. (Note: PC Companions support synchronization of only one folder of contacts) With the H/PC Pros, you can read and write Word and Excel files in desktop format. H/PC Pros can access websites with similar functionality to Internet Explorer 4.0, including 128-bit encryption. The P/PCs can access websites as well with 3rd party software.

Network Connections

When using IrDA, a modem or Ethernet, the H/PC becomes a full-fledged member of your network. The H/PC Pros also offer the ability to access Windows NT network shares while maintaining the appropriate security. Further, the H/PC Pros can also print to Windows NT connected PCL3 printers via the network as well. Other printers drivers are available from Westtek. The Ethernet connection is the fastest of all connection types, allowing for synchronization to be done in less than a minute as well as full backups of the largest systems in less than 5 minutes. Also, the H/PC Pros support the use of a proxy server to access websites and FTP downloads. With 3rd party software you have additional capabilities including using your H/PC Pro as a web server, TFTP server or FTP server as well.

Conclusion

With all the communication capabilities of Windows CE, the enterprise users are able to access and use corporate information wherever and whenever they need it. PC Companion users can connect using the same connections your notebook users already use. I believe that this delivery channel is simpler and less expensive to operate than traditional PCs while offering similar connectivity options. For further information on Windows CE, please visit my website www.pocketpcfaq.com.

You can to Enterprise Solutions for Microsoft Windows CE, a free quarterly publication for qualified users.


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