After Microsoft announced the release of the new PPC OS in June, new Axims were released with Windows Mobile 2003 onboard. They also made an upgrade available to existing owners of Axims running Pocket PC 2002 (free if you purchased after May 23, 2003, or about $30 if you purchased before that time). Many people were anxious to enjoy the enhanced features of Windows Mobile 2003, despite concerns that some existing programs or hardware drivers would not be compatible.
However, Dell halted shipments of Axims with Windows Mobile 2003 on July 16th after hearing complaints about poor performance. There was a problem with the internally created firmware that cause the PDA to use more resources than it needed caching data, causing slowdowns when running certain applications. In an effort to satisfy its customers, Dell posted an FTP link to a patch on its web site, but pulled the link when it discovered that some users were able to use the link to upgrade their Pocket PC 2002 systems without paying for a license.
Dell has decided to distribute the patch on a CD that will only be sent to users who truly need it: those who purchased a new Axim between June 23rd and July 16th. Axims sold before that time have Pocket PC 2002, and those sold after already include the patched version of Windows Mobile 2003. Dell estimates that the new CD will be available within 2-3 weeks.
A quick review of the message boards on Dell s web site indicates that there are still a lot of unhappy campers. People who want their Axims to work now have to wait at least two more weeks as opposed to using a quick download to fix the problem. The firmware problem has also added delays to the shipping schedule of recently ordered units. Finally, there are some who got the patch before the link was pulled who insist that it doesn t solve all of the problems (Dell denies this).
Just add another page to the Dell Axim saga. People always want everything to work perfectly, and they want their problems fixed yesterday. Dell is trying to do right by its customers, but has to guard its Windows Mobile licensing agreements. Stay tuned.