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Toshiba e740 PDA owners demand OS upgrade

But Windows Media 2003 may not help

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Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Update Toshiba's decision to offer Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PCs as an upgrade to current owners of its e750 PDA has infuriated owners of the previous generation of the product, the e740.

Toshiba has said it will not make such an update available to e740 owners.

Toshiba has "no plans to issue an upgrade for the e740 to Pocket PC 2003", it said. The reason? The new OS "mainly offers PDA users some new wireless utilities". Said utilities includes enhanced Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality, and Toshiba is offering e740 owners an updated Bluetooth app which "exceeds Microsoft Bluetooth utilities in terms of functionality", a company spokeswoman told The Register today.

Unfortunately, say disgruntled e740 owners, that's not all that the new OS offers. Quite apart from that fact that the built-in Wi-Fi adaptor found in some versions of the e740 could use the ease-of-access improvements Windows Mobile 2003 offers, there's a performance issue.

The e740 is based on Intel's XScale PXA250 processor running at 400MHz. Unlike Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PCs, previous generations of the Pocket PC OS were not optimised for that chip so, say e740 users, we'd like the update so we can realise the full potential of the XScale architecture. There are also a number of bugs e740 owners would like fixed too.

Toshiba's unwillingness to provide an OS update and thus better XScale support has even prompted e740 owners to set up an online petition demanding justice from the manufacturer. Since the launch of the petition last week, over 3100 signatures have been gathered.

Unfortunately, Toshiba may not be able to help even if it wants to. The e750's PXA255 processor is a replacement for the PXA250, which we understand was not without more than its share of bugs, particularly with the CPU cache and PCMCIA support. When Intel releases a new processor, it usually continues to offer the previous version, often at a lower price. That's not the case with the PXA255. As Intel's developer site notes: "The Intel PXA250 processors are no longer available for new development and have been replaced by the Intel PXA255 processor."

Indeed, what Intel markets as the PXA255 was originally to be released as the PXA250 stepping C1, according to an Intel Product Change Notification document seen by The Register. Not only does it fix the PXA250's prime glitches, but adds some new, performance boosting features of its own.

In short, the performance boost that e740 users are hoping to gain from Windows Mobile 2003 may not materialise even if they get the update. The PXA255-based e750 will deliver a boost, which is one of the reasons why Toshiba is offering the upgrade to customers of that machine. Anyone who buys or has bought the e750 between 23 May and 23 September will qualify for a free OS upgrade.

Toshiba denied that the issues surrounding the PXA250 were the reason for the initial refusal to offer e740 users the update. "To date Toshiba has not received any customer complaints around [the bugs]," said the spokeswoman. "The PXA 250 processor is not subject to any recall and is currently being sold by most Pocket PC device manufacturers."

"Toshiba used the Intel PXA 250 processor in the e740 because it was the most powerful PDA processor available at the time of launch," she added.

Toshiba is no longer selling the e740 in the US so far as we can see, but it is still for sale via the company's UK web site. ®

Related Link

Petition: Call for Toshiba to support its customers

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Pocket PC makers line up to support Windows Mobile 2003

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