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Dell misses PDA patch posting deadline – again

Update upgraded OS as well as firmware

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Dell failed to make its Axim x5 PDA firmware fix widely available for the second time yesterday after an eleventh hour glitch forced the PC maker to pull the patch from its servers.

To be fair to Dell, it did post the patch as it had promised to do on Monday. Then, having previously said the fix would be made available on Saturday, 26 July, and failed to do so, it pledged to offer the update by Wednesday.

However, Dell doesn't appear to have told anyone about the update, and the Axim users who tracked it down appear to have stumbled across it. They were visiting Dell's site in anticipation of the availability of the patch. A cock-up in the site's menu coding exposed the update, a company spokeswoman admitted, according to a PCWorld.com report.

Dell then quickly removed the patch when it emerged that the upgrade would also update the Pocket PC 2002 operating system to the new version, Windows Mobile 2003 for Pocket PCs.

The fix was intended to eliminate performance problems Axim users had experienced with Windows Mobile 2003. Dell had already said that Wednesday's patch was intended only for Axims that had shipped with the new version of the operating system, and that a version for machines with Pocket PC 2002 pre-installed would ship later.

Owners of Pocket PC 2002-based Axims seem to have gone ahead and tried the update anyway, with unexpected - but, Dell admitted, software licence violating - results. The company implied that checks programmed into the update, designed to ensure that it could only be applied to Windows Mobile 2003-based Axims, had been circumvented.

Dell was not able to say when the patch will be posted, but the spokeswoman did say that the official Pocket PC 2002-to-Windows Mobile 2003 upgrade will ship on CD in a couple of weeks' time, as promised on Monday.

Meanwhile, UK Axim owners have been dismayed to learn that the free OS upgrade offer made to anyone who bought an x5 after 23 May does not extend outside the US. And indeed, Dell's UK web site, which is offering the OS upgrade for £22.33 including sales tax, makes no distinction between recent Axim purchasers and owners of older machines. ®

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