Handheld owners who ordered an upgrade to Microsoft's new Pocket PC 2002 operating system have discovered that some key software isn't included and may never be released.
Pocket PC 2002 versions of MSN Messenger, Terminal Services Client, a spell checker and support for WAP (wireless application protocol) in Pocket Internet Explorer do not appear on the upgrade CD that people began receiving last week.
Microsoft said it "may or may not" release the software at some point in the future. The programs are all supported in Pocket PC, the previous version of the operating system.
The upgrade is actually available only for Compaq Computer's iPaq handheld because that is the only device with the appropriate hardware. People who ordered the upgrade CD in September say they are chagrined at both Microsoft and Compaq for not making the situation clear.
"Here I am at home, with my recently upgraded iPaq 3670...with Messenger nowhere to be found," wrote a person in one of the milder posts on a Pocket PC forum. "Well, at least the boxes are pretty."
For most people, the only critical applications missing are MSN Messenger and Terminal Services Client (TSC). Messenger is an instant messenger and is one of the products that Microsoft is promoting heavily in its Windows XP desktop operating system. TSC is important for some professionals, letting them log onto or manage remote servers via a LAN (local area network) connection.
Microsoft has confirmed the absence of the applications.
Derek Brown, Microsoft's mobility "evangelist" for the mobile devices division, said these two applications may never appear.
"No one should upgrade a Pocket PC with the assumption that Terminal Services Client or MSN Messenger will ever be available," he wrote in the same Pocket PC forum. "If these apps are 'must-have' for you then assume the worse--that we will not release these--before you make your upgrade decision."
However, people say they were never informed that they might not get all the features built into Pocket PC 2002, which is sold in its complete form pre-installed on new handhelds from Hewlett-Packard, Compaq and others.
Because of memory limitations, the full operating system could not be squeezed into the ROM (read-only memory) of older iPaq models. But much of the software that didn't fit--applications such as Windows Media Player and Reader--was provided for installation into the handheld's RAM (random-access memory).
Compaq began selling pre-orders for the upgrade in mid-September, ahead of Pocket PC 2002's launch in October.
Compaq said that it did not promise a full upgrade and that it made clear all along that some applications would not fit into the ROM of older machines. The manufacturer said the availability of applications outside the core operating system is Microsoft's responsibility.
However, the section of Compaq's Web site that describes the upgrade and allows a person to order the software does not list which applications are and are not included.
Microsoft's Brown acknowledges that the company has not been clear even internally about whether Messenger and TSC would be released.
"Within Microsoft there was some confusion whether we were going to do these applications or not--and if so, when," Brown said in the forum. "I agree we should be doing a better job of communicating the delta between the upgrade and new Pocket PCs."
Staff writer Matthew Broersma reported from London.