|By Chris De Herrera
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Needed for Windows Mobile to Excel in the Enterprise?
By Chris De Herrera , Copyright 2003
Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about what
Microsoft needs to focus on adding to future Pocket PCs. As part of
that, I thought that a list of the most nagging issues affecting Windows
Mobile deployments in the Enterprise would help users understand the
limitations of these devices. Also, I hope Microsoft considers these
issues in future developments for the Pocket PC.
- Support for additional Calendar, Contacts and
Tasks Folders – Clearly every major corporation has a public folder
for their entire employee’s contact information. Also, there are
many assistants that need two calendars. Right now there is no
support for Microsoft to synchronize these folders not even in
- Native support for Exchange – If you want the
Pocket PCs adopted in the enterprise, make it as easy as possible.
Right now the requirement that overworked information technology
staff needs to configure the server and the client on the Pocket PC
means that unless the Pocket PC is viewed strategically, it won’t
get done. Even with a simple client that did not require
reconfiguration of the Exchange server would allow many users to
maximize their Pocket PC’s capabilities.
- Support for viewing and editing Office
Documents – Pocket Word, Pocket Excel are poor substitutes for the
desktop. I’d love to see the option to view Word and
Excel documents (including graphs) on the Pocket PC so I can read
attachments to e-mail when I’m away from my desk. Further allowing
users to edit the documents is a critical function that all business
users need on a regular basis.
- Support for Acrobat – Adobe’s Acrobat format
dominates common forms in the enterprise. Even the .NET Crystal
Reports tool allows developers to save documents in Acrobat
format. Clearly Microsoft needs to include in rom support for
viewing Acrobat files to meet enterprise customer’s needs.
- Built-in Printing Support – Right now Pocket
Word, Pocket Excel and other applications on the Pocket PC know
nothing about printing. So 3rd parties are having to
decode the file format to print documents using their own
proprietary print engines and drivers. With printing salesmen could
print orders in the field to meet customer needs.
- Better web browser support – Users need to use
their Pocket PCs to access their bank and stocks websites. Right
now it still supports an older version of Internet Explorer. Also,
the implementation of Jscript is weaker than it is on the desktop.
The ideal functionality is that the web designer does not need to do
anything to support both the desktop and the Pocket PC in the
enterprise for both intranets and extranets.
- Fix ActiveSync – It’s just got to work the
first time and every time. We need control over what people put on
their devices – we can’t let the Pocket PC out without controls over
what files, e-mail calendar, contacts and tasks they put on their
Pocket PC. Right now there is no easy way to prevent users from
changing ActiveSync’s settings to control this let alone controlling
it centrally. Also, we really need error message that tell us what
is not being synchronized and how to fix problems.
- Management tools – How do I centrally apply
patches and install applications as well as ensure system controls
are in place? Without 3rd party software I’ve got to
touch each Pocket PC to ensure it is configured correctly. Yes,
Microsoft has support for configuring network connections (using xml
over the air) but that’s just a fraction of the settings that the
users need to configure on their devices.
- How could I go through this list without
mentioning the lack of networking tools. Uses cannot easily confirm
connectivity with their network or VPN and they need to do this to
use the Pocket PC effectively. We really need a utility like the
Zero Configuration has in XP which allows for a release/renew of an
IP address and the ability to see the TCP/IP settings. Oh and
ideally we need to have Ping ported so we can confirm connectivity.
- Versions coming every year. We need stability
on the software so we don’t have to upgrade both Pocket PCs and
ActiveSync on their desktops and train everyone every year. Ideally
I’d like to see the ability to keep all users at the same software
level for 2-3 years and still get new equipment as needed. It’s
really disruptive to work on a custom development project and have
to install additional software to deploy applications such as Visual
As always these represent my personal opinions and
do not represent any indication of what Microsoft is doing in the
future. These are my musings on the items I see that are missing in the
Pocket PC for enterprise customers. If Microsoft implements these
recommendations, the Pocket PC will be the most complete client for the
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