Email on the move with Windows CE and
Why Do It?
If your job is mainly office-based, you may well depend on your company’s Exchange 5.5 e-mail system. Messages arrive in the company and are automatically directed to your Inbox; you can reply to them quickly and efficiently, deals can be struck in a matter of hours, and people come to expect a prompt response from you.
What happens when you’re out of the office for a meeting in another city, or working from home? Many pegple take a laptop with them to keep on top of things. Problem is, they’re over the top just for keeping up with emails – large, heavy and costly. Also, frustratingly, they can take five minutes to boot up each time.
Compaq iPAQ and HP Jornada
These devices have quietly been emerging over the last few years, set apart from their PDA counterparts. Windows CE devices have been around for a while, but these two relatively recent arrivals are ideal for e-mail on the move and truly merit the term “Pocket PC”. Firstly both incorporate, as standard, versions of standard programs found on laptops and desktops, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even Access. Second, they have a version of the popular e-mail client Outlook. They both have a type 2 PC (or PCMCIA) slot, allowing the addition of a network card, a modem or a cell phone adapter. And ideally, the Jornada 710 and 720 models feature a built-in 56K modem and have a reduced-size full keyboard, which works OK if you have small to medium size fingers.
Windows CE 3.0 / Windows H/PC
Another key for the occasional mobile user is familiarity. The operating systems these devices use is Windows CE 3.0. In the case of the Jornada, it’s called Windows for H/PC 2000, which is HP’s own flavor of CE. Either way, although under the skin there are radical differences, the feel is just the same as Windows on your desktop – you feel instantly at home.
Essential for e-mail (and web browsing) on the move is a telecoms connection, and the fastest and cheapest way is the good old-fashioned telephone line – and all that’s needed is a modem (built-in or plugged into an expansion port) to connect.
But for a truly mobile solution, more freedom is needed. Nokia have now produced version 2 of a wonderful gadget, the CardPhone. In the form of a type 2 PC card with a swiveling antenna on the end, this is a fully featured cellular data phone for GSM 900 and 1800 networks (and you can even use it for voice calls). Different cellular providers offer various data rates – my own is connected to the UK provider Orange who operate at up to 28,800bps. Incidentally, some write-ups give the impression that the CardPhone isn’t Windows CE compatible, but it is - the drivers aren’t supplied with the CardPhone but can be downloaded from http://forum.nokia.com together with full instructions on installation, which has to be done through your desktop PC.
There’s a third option – connecting to your existing cell phone. Some have an inbuilt modem, so you can connect via the infra red ports on the handheld and on the cellphone. Others have special cables and adapters to connect. For my money though, I’d pay the $300 and buy the CardPhone – it’s so simple and convenient.
Setting up Windows NT
To be able to hook up successfully with your desktop Exchange mailbox, your office network has to be set up to allow you to. Your network administrator needs to install and enable the Windows NT Remote Access Service (RAS) and your user permissions need to be set to allow you access to the NT network. There needs to be a modem (or more, depending on the number of potential remote users) designated to receive RAS calls, and you need to get the phone number and the fixed IP address, if you have to use one, from your network administrator.
Setting up Exchange
If you’re already using e-mail in the office on Exchange, you’ll already have a mailbox set up in Exchange that your PC log into automatically using your NT user name and password. The only thing that needs checking here is that Exchange, and your mailbox, are both enabled for your choice of protocol, as discussed below. Ask your administrator to give you your Exchange mailbox alias – this is a critical piece of the jigsaw in setting up your mobile device.
Which protocol to use?
Windows CE 3.0 devices support two
of the most popular e-mail server types – POP3 and IMAP4. These manifest themselves in the way that your e-mail
messages are presented to you. POP3
is more commonly used, but only allows you to synchronise messages in your
Inbox only. These appear as
unread messages, irrespective of whether they have already been read by
you in the office. Other
folders, Sent Items and so on, cannot be downloaded.
IMAP4, on the other hand, is much
more useful. Unread messages
appear in bold, read ones in light type.
Sent items from your PC appear in the Sent items folder on the
handheld, and items you send from the handheld also appear on your
desktop! You can select on a individual basis which folders are
available only when connected and which are synchronized for offline use.
IMAP4 is much more of a complete solution, but of course it’s
slower because all the synchronization takes time over a relatively slow
To tackle this problem, there are steps you can take to limit the amount of downloading. First, on your desktop PC, get in the habit of deleting unwanted spam and other messages when you first read them, or move them into an unsynchronized folder. Second, on the handheld, you can limit the age of the messages downloaded to a small number of days (a week, or even less, works for me). Third, you can limit the length of the downloaded messages, and also whether attachments are downloaded, or whether you retrieve the ones you want on request.
This is the area which proved the
most problematic, as it’s virtually undocumented.
The settings described below are for HP Jornada, but the settings
are very similar in the iPAQ. The
following areas need to be set up:
Firstly, the dial-up connection.
On the handheld, tap Start,
Programs, Communication and Remote Networking.
Tap Make New Connection which starts a wizard. Enter a name for the connection (for instance, the name of
the company) and select Dial-up Connection, and tap Next. Then select the modem you will mainly use, in our case Nokia
Card Phone 2.0. Tap Configure
and change the baud rate to the highest speed supported by your cellular
network, and tap OK. Now tap
TCP/IP settings which brings up the General tab; if your network
administrator gave you a fixed IP address, enter it here, or tick the
Server assigned IP address box. Under
Name Servers, tick Use Server-assigned addresses.
Now click OK and Next. Now
enter the telephone number for the RAS modem, being sure to enter the code
for your country and area, omitting the first zero if applicable.
Now tap Finish.
Tap the icon you have just created
and enter your Windows NT user name and password, as well as the domain
name given to you by your network administrator.
If you tick Save Password you won’t have to re-enter the password
each time. Now tap Connect to
save the settings, and check that the handheld dials up your server and
that you can successfully log on to the NT network, before canceling the
Now you have to set up Exchange as
an e-mail service in Pocket Outlook.
Tap Start, Programs, Pocket Outlook and tap Inbox. On the Services menu, tap Options. On the Services tab, tap Add. Select your chosen protocol (in our case, IMAP4. Windows CE gives this service a name, such as IMAP4 Mail, which you can change if you want. Tap OK and the Mail Service Definition screen appears. Using the drop-down box, select the connection you set up earlier. Enter the name of the mail server (for received messages) in the Server box. In the User ID box, enter your information using the following syntax: <WindowsNTDomain>/<WindowsNTUserName>/<ExchangeMailboxAlias>.
For example, if your domain name
is Rubble, your User Name is FredFlint and your Mailbox Alias is Fred,
enter Rubble/FredFlint/Fred in the box.
Enter your NT password in the Password box, the server name (for
sending messages) in the SMTP box and your e-mail address in the Return
Address box. Important note: leave the Domain box blank, or the handheld will not connect
Tap Next to access screen 2, where
you can select various options including whether to disconnect after
synchronizing (suggest Yes) and whether to restrict the number of days’
messages which are synchronized. Tap
Next again to limit message size and set attachment options, and tap
You’re now set up to synchronize
your handheld device with Exchange 5.5.
Needless to say, you can repeat the above instructions to set up further dial-up connections to hook up through a landline. Outlook holds the default connection, but allows to you use an alternative. You can also, of course, create a dial-up for your ISP and surf the net, and if your Exchange server has a permanent connection to the internet, you can connect and synchronize that way…but that’s another story!