Welcome to Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, Pocket PC Edition. I'm John D. Ruley, author of Windows 2000 Magazine's Mobile & Wireless column. I've been a Windows CE user since Microsoft released version 1.0 (I still have an original Casio A-10 Cassiopeia handheld PC—H/PC—on my desk) and have used every version of the Pocket PC since the first models appeared. Pocket PC 2002 is an amazing improvement over earlier device software, particularly in terms of connectivity to corporate networks. (For a Pocket PC 2002 overview, see my guest commentary in the October 11 Mobile & Wireless UPDATE).

Microsoft launched Pocket PC 2002 in San Francisco last month. An impressive number of companies have already deployed the new devices, including Temple University Health System, which provides Compaq iPAQs to its staff physicians. Using software from Allscripts Healthcare, the iPAQs connect to a central database over an 802.11 wireless Ethernet network. Bechtel uses iPAQs with Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) wireless WAN cards to provide field access to asset data in support of a huge project—upgrading some 15,000 cellular towers. For security, Bechtel users take advantage of Pocket PC 2002's built-in VPN capability to tunnel to corporate data. Finally, some Office Depot store managers are using wireless-enabled iPAQs to check inventory and order status from the store itself rather than from their desks. In Office Depot's warehouses, employees use the more rugged Symbol devices—also running Pocket PC 2002 software—with a combination of built-in laser barcode scanners and 802.11 cards.

These applications highlight the huge evolutionary step that Pocket PC 2002 devices represent when you compare them with earlier PDAs (whether based on Microsoft's Windows CE, Palm OS, or any other PDA OS). These devices are no longer limited to synchronization with a particular user's desktop; rather, they can integrate smoothly into corporate and enterprise networks. This integration will open up the market for many new applications.

Every 2 weeks in the Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, Pocket PC Edition, I'll keep you up-to-date with Pocket PC news, tips, and commentary. You can help by telling me how you're using (or are thinking about using) Pocket PCs in your company, what problems you're experiencing, and what generally interests you about Pocket PCs. Write to me at jruley@win2000mag.com.