In the March 21 edition of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, Pocket PC Edition, I asked readers to share problems they've experienced with Microsoft ActiveSync. I received several responses. I'm working on this topic for my Mobile & Wireless column in an upcoming issue of Windows & .NET Magazine, but I thought I'd share a couple reader responses in the hope that they might prove helpful to other readers.

Renee Osberg wrote that he couldn't get a Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6a (SP6a) desktop and Compaq's iPAQ to recognize each other—until he upgraded the iPAQ to ROM version 1.87 and upgraded the desktop to ActiveSync 3.5. For more information about the ROM upgrade, click here.

(This upgrade is intended only for iPAQ devices running Pocket PC 2000 software. If you have Pocket PC 2002, you probably already have ROM version 2.14. To check the ROM version, tap Settings, Control Panel; select the System tab; and tap Asset Viewer. Then, select the Version item from the resulting list. If the ROM version is earlier than 1.87, you'll benefit from the upgrade.)

Even if you don't have an iPAQ, ActiveSync 3.5 fixes several bugs, adds new features, and improves performance. For details, see this week's "Upgrade to ActiveSync 3.5" tip.

Anthony Noon of New Zealand wrote to tell me that he has trouble connecting Pocket PC devices directly to a Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server machine rather than to individual desktops. He's using Extended Systems' XTNDConnect Server. Although XTNDConnect Server works, Noon has experienced several problems with the software: For example, he had to disable task synchronization because it was intermittent. He's also not thrilled with Extended Systems' technical support, although his location might be part of that problem. Noon could instead apply Microsoft Mobile Information Server (MIS), which includes Server ActiveSync, but MIS is probably overkill for his situation because he simply wants to let users synchronize their devices with the server. Noon's best bet is to wait for the next Exchange Server release, which supposedly will include Server ActiveSync. But both he and I would be interested in other suggestions—and if any other XTNDConnect users are out there, I'd like to hear from you!

So how does ActiveSync's reliability stack up to Palm HotSync's reliability? I used Google to perform a little nonscientific research. First, I searched through Internet newsgroups for postings that included the words "ActiveSync" and "bug." The search returned 951 responses. Next, I searched for the words "HotSync" and "bug." This search returned 1670 responses. At first glance, you'd conclude that ActiveSync is more reliable than HotSync. However, consider that Palm OS devices outnumber Pocket PC devices by a factor of ten.

ActiveSync's poor reputation costs Microsoft and its partners business. One reader wrote to me about his inability to get ActiveSync to work on his iPAQ—he fixed the problem by switching to Research In Motion's (RIM's) BlackBerry device.

I'm trying to gather reports of other ActiveSync bugs and fixes. If you've experienced any ActiveSync bugs, please email me at jruley@winnetmag.com.