Dell's Axim patch for Windows Mobile 2003 delayed

Dell Inc. missed a self-imposed deadline to post a fix on its support Web site for the performance problems that have plagued the Windows Mobile 2003 versions of its Axim handheld. The company had quietly posted an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) link to the patch Wednesday, but pulled that file after some users were able to discover a way to upgrade their Pocket PC 2002 operating systems without a license, a Dell spokeswoman said.

Several Web-savvy Axim users were able to find an unpublicized FTP link to the upgrade file on Dell's Web site Wednesday while waiting for the patch to be posted to Dell's support Web page, and a few other users were able to find a way to upgrade their Pocket PC 2002-based Axims using the patch, the spokeswoman said.

The patch was only supposed to work with Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows Mobile 2003 handhelds, but a few enterprising users appear to have found a way around that restriction. The spokeswoman was unable to provide details about exactly how the patch was circumvented.

The Round Rock, Texas, company halted shipments of Axims with Windows Mobile 2003 operating system on July 16 after numerous complaints were lodged about the poor performance of the handhelds. Dell discovered a problem with the internally created firmware shipped with the handhelds, and said on Monday it would make a patch available for download at its support Web page. (http://support.dell.com)

Before the unlicensed upgrades were revealed late Wednesday, Dell said the patch had not been posted on the support Web page due to delays in redesigning that Web page to post the link to the patch.

The programming required in order to redesign some pull-down menus on the support Web site so customers could find the patch and read instruction documentation simply was not completed on time, the spokeswoman said, before the issues with the FTP file were revealed.

"It's a pretty complex process with a lot of people involved. We needed to make sure the first time we get this out, it's right," she said.

After discovering the patch was being used for unlicensed upgrades, the FTP file was removed from Dell's site, the spokeswoman said. Both the FTP files and the link will not be posted "until we develop a more targeted distribution to customers who were truly affected with performance issues," the spokeswoman said. She was unable to provide a date when that distribution might take place, or how it might occur.

Upgrade CDs for users with the Pocket PC 2002 operating system are still expected to ship in a few weeks, the spokeswoman said.

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