Many respondents to our reader survey for Hey Microsoft!, "Can You Hear Me Now," December 2005, InstantDoc ID 48173, had questions and requests that we didn't have room to address in the main article. Here you can see additional reader questions and comments and Microsoft's responses to them.

Survey question: What could Microsoft add for admins?

Reader: Reporting of PDA uses and functions that the users use on a daily basis.

Microsoft: We continually strive to incorporate customer input into the development process. You have told us that your primary needs include security, administration and mobile user support. New enhancements in Exchange Server Service Pack 2 serve to help you better address these priorities. We are always looking for ways to add more value, and adding functionality such as allowing admins to track how users are using Exchange ActiveSync-connected devices is something we are investigating.

Reader: Ability to audit usage for metering.

Microsoft: A variety of third-party packaged services and applications are available to help you monitor and manage your networked servers that run Exchange Server, to achieve this functionality. For more information about these solutions from Microsoft certified partners, please reference: http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/partners/netmanagement.asp

Reader: More descriptive error messages. Not "error INTERNET_2 " because a user doesn't have a clue what that means. "Your connection to the Internet is OK, however the server could not be reached" would make it more clear what's going on.

Microsoft: Based on user feedback, we have greatly improved this experience within the latest release - Windows Mobile 5.0. With each new release, we will strive to make additional upgrades as necessary to further enhance the experience for users of Windows Mobile-based devices.

Survey question: What tools could MS provide for deploying, managing, and supporting your mobile workforce?

Reader: Full device OS & app images for simple reloading for when users stuff up some setting or the device becomes unresponsive.

Microsoft: With Exchange 2003 SP2 + MSFP it is possible to remotely wipe a device. This will restore the device to factory settings. While the intended use of this is to remove data from lost or stolen devices it could also be used to restore a device to factory settings for other reasons. As all information is stored on the Exchange server after such a wipe all a user much do is reenter their server name, username and password and the information will resync to the device.

Survey question: What additional questions or comments do you have for the Exchange product development team about mobile messaging, Exchange 2003 SP2, or Windows Mobile?

Reader: Why is Exchange ActiveSync so difficult to keep running on these devices? I can easily deploy it to Treo 650's, but over time the device stops syncing (even with a reset). We switched to GoodLink 4.0 and it works really well.”

Microsoft: We suggest that you contact Palm to make sure that your Treo 650 is running the latest fixes available. In the past few months, Palm has released VersaMail 3.1, which fixes many stability issues that customers reported. You can find Treo 650 updater packages on Palm's web site http://www.palm.com, under “Support”.

Reader: What about spam filtering and blocking attachment downloads for mobile devices?

Microsoft: Exchange 2003 SP2 integrates the Intelligent Message Filter into Exchange. This offers highly enhanced spam filtering for all Exchange users including those who access via mobile devices.

Reader: How secure is the Direct Push environment? What security is utilized to maintain the secured/direct connection?

Microsoft: The Messaging & Security Feature Pack and SP2 architecture uses a standard SSL connection, which means that the data integrity and privacy is similar to the same encryption used by financial web applications. The entire data stream between the device and Exchange Server is encrypted.

Reader: What is the future roadmap for Windows Mobile?

Microsoft: Expect more devices and more applications that will appeal to all types of mobile workers. Microsoft is currently working with 42 device manufacturers and you'll be seeing great new qwerty-keyboard devices like the Motorola Q and a Windows Mobile-based Palm Treo early next year. Microsoft envisions a near future where IT managers want to manage mobile devices the same way they manage laptops and other mobile points of access, and Windows Mobile is creating a consistent, familiar OS that easy to use and manage.

Reader: Will the support for Exchange 2003 SP2 be limited to Windows Mobile 5.0 or will there be backwards compatibility in terms of features?

Microsoft: To use all of the new mobility feature enhancements in Exchange Server 2003 SP2 on Windows-based mobile devices - including "Direct Push" email capabilities, security policy enforcement, more efficient synchronization of data, over the air address book lookup and both local and remote device wipe - the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 is required. However, Exchange 2003 SP2 supports the same set of Exchange ActiveSync clients as prior versions of Exchange 2003, including Pocket PC Phone Edition 2002, Windows Mobile 2003, Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, and non-Windows Mobile clients, such as the Palm Treo 650.

Reader: Which devices / mobile OSes are supported for direct push? Improvements to in-built Windows Mobile mail client? Public folder sync - methods and details.”

Microsoft: Windows Mobile provides the most comprehensive and integrated mobile experience—from server to device. A familiar, consistent platform and integration of native technologies, such as Exchange Server ActiveSync and the Mobile Office Suite, ensure a powerful experience for end users and easy deployment for IT Professionals.

Enhancements made to Microsoft Exchange Server SP2, such as "Direct Push", will be realized with the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0. However, any of our partners who have licensed the Exchange ActiveSync protocol can also make use of these new features and offer this functionality to their customers if they choose to do so.

For more information about Microsoft Exchange Server:
http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/default.mspx

For more information about Microsoft Windows Mobile:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmobile/default.mspx