The lowdown on pocket PC's

What's hot this year? For both Palm and Pocket PC (Windows Mobility) users, productivity applications and enhancements are popular. Business applications and other apps also remain in demand, as users seek to enhance their handheld computing experience beyond the basic personal information manager and office-compatible file management tasks.

Palm put Desktop-to-Go, a virtual private network client and an e-mail client into its models; at the same time, publishers are rushing out other productivity applications, including many with Windows analogs.

On the Pocket PC side, enhancements to basic Microsoft Outlook functions seem to take a high spot among users. FileMaker Inc. recently released the mobile conduit/data entry system for its desktop database in a Pocket PC version.

And Microsoft took a bit of a turn, bundling the handheld version of its Streets & Trips software as a bonus with its Windows desktop edition.

What about application development? Microsoft is promoting its links to .Net and other enterprise systems as a key to its developer successes, while Palm says its ability to run Java apps on its latest models means there are potentially 3 million developers who can write for the OS.

Must-know info? The overwhelming majority of handheld software purchases, it seems, are aimed at delivering the software via Internet download to your computer for installation at the next sync. That's a fast method, but astute users will want to either burn or order a CD as a backup. If your handheld is lost or stolen or dies, or if your PC suffers a similar fate, that CD could be an essential step on the road to recovery.

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