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By Chris De Herrera 
Copyright 1998-2007
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Future ActiveSync Directions
By Chris De Herrera , Copyright 2001
Revised 11/25/2001

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Here's my thoughts on what Microsoft should address in ActiveSync in the future:

ActiveSync Usage Scenarios that should be supported

1. Synchronization with 3 PCs - All data. If I am a home, notebook and work user and I want all the same data everywhere, I should have the option of synchronizing with all three PCs. I know a ton of end users that use their Pocket PCs this way. I personally do this on a daily basis. 
2. Synchronize with 3 PCs - work data at work, home data at home. The goal is to allow me to view both sets of data on my device but only sync work data at work and home data at home. Further, you should allow me to sync with a laptop as well as the home and work PC. I see this scenario on a regular basis and refer users to 3rd party applications such as Intellisync that allow the user to control what gets synchronized where. 
3. Synchronize with 3 PCs - Work data only. You should allow the administrator to not allow me to synchronize the Work data to a home PC. This is important because corporations do not want their data to leave the company's control  in some cases. Further, ActiveSync should prevent the user from synchronizing their data from their home PC to the device. This will be an important option for corporate users that the corporation wants to fully control where the data is stored.

Synchronization Issues

Address the lack of support for synchronizing files with Passwords. Allow the user to choose to support this or not. If the user chooses this, prompt them for the password or allow them to sync files if the password is already stored without prompting. This functionality should exist within all types of data that is synchronized including Money.

Backup & Restore Options 

1. Allow users to perform a full backup on a periodic basis. I would recommend once a week or once a month. During the rest of the time, allow the system to perform incremental backups. Further consider supporting the Grandfather, Father, Son rotation of backups as part of this. 
2. Provide easier restores. The concept of the restore functionality is cumbersome since the user has to use a Guest connection to restore in some cases. 
3. Further a restore across different versions of the Regional Settings should be automatically addressed as part of the restore without user intervention. 
4. Provide an administrative utility to confirm that the backups are complete and readable. Also allow the utility to extract files. In some cases, this is the only way the user can get their data if they have lost their device. 
5. Provide the user with the option to automatically backup selected folders on their storage card. This would allow corporations to restore critical data if the device gets lost or stolen.

Connectivity

I recommend that Microsoft support the following:

1. Establishing a first partnership via a network. 
2. Enable IP address in lieu of PC name to synchronize with.
3. Coexistence of ActiveSync on the PC with socks, Winsock or a proxy client. 
4. Do not remember my network password on the device. If you do, then allow me to delete it anytime I want.

Installation of Software

1. Allow administrators to choose whether or not users can install software. 
2. Provide a simpler way to install applications onto the device. Supporting .cab files natively would help tremendously since developers would not need to create a setup routine. Right now the setup routines are usually 500k so this would be a big savings in terms of downloads. 
3. Ability to uninstall all the desktop install routines automatically so user cannot reinstall software on another device. 
4. Allow for silent installs on next sync. That way administrators can install additional apps without bothering the user. This feature should work with an admin console if possible.

Application level control of the ActiveSync application:

1. Ability to close the application icon. I mean an option equivalent to killing the WCESCOMM task. Right now users are reporting that with AS 3.x that WCESCOMM chews up 8-10% of the cpu until the first sync. 
2. Ability to prevent WCESCOMM from running on startup. Not all users want this running all the time. I personally use a 3rd party app to not start WCESCOMM when I boot up. If I want to sync, I click on the ActiveSync icon to restart it.

Debugging Options

I believe that Microsoft needs to do the following to make debugging easier:

1. Provide human readable information in the logs. The current logs are cryptic at best. 
2. Provide human readable information in the Resolve Items. Right now this is the toughest item to fix. 
3. Provide a human readable log of all data updated. This way an administrator can figure out what happened when a user calls for assistance.

Error Messages

Provide meaningful messages for errors. Add error messages for any scenario that is not supported or handled appropriately. For example, add an error message for attempting to sync with an older device explaining that they are not supported.


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