Wireless Knowledge Inc.s Workstyle Desktop Edition, which shipped this month, helps handhelds be all they can be by providing them with flexible access to corporate mail and data stored on Microsoft Corp. Exchange servers.
Workstyle Desktop Edition supports e-mail, contacts and calendar synchronization for Palm OS, Windows CE and Research In Motion Ltd. (BlackBerry 957 and earlier) devices and provides access to this data via Wireless Application Protocol or regular Web clients.
This is an impressive array of support, but eWeek Labs would like to see it extended to include Symbian Ltd. and Java 2 Micro Edition platforms, which, respectively, power the Nokia Corp. Nokia 9290 and RIM BlackBerry 5810 smart-phone devices.
The Workstyle Desktop client runs on Windows 98, Millennium Edition, 2000 and XP and requires Microsofts Outlook 98 or 2000. Outlook 2002 is not supported in this release, which is a deal breaker for anyone running Microsofts Office XP.
Workstyle Desktop Edition costs $69.95 per user per year, which includes access to a Web-based synchronization management and mail access service. To compare, Handspring Inc.s recently launched TreoMail Corporate Edition service costs $99 yearly, and Infowave Software Inc.s Symmetry Pro costs $19.95 per month. Both of these services are similar to Workstyle in that they redirect Exchange data from a desktop client, but TreoMail works only with Treo devices and supports only mail messages. Symmetry Pro supports both Palm and Pocket PC devices, but it does not synchronize contacts or calendar entries like Workstyle does.
We tested Workstyle Wireless Desktop with a Hewlett-Packard Co. iPaq H3870 handheld computer running the Pocket PC 2002 operating system, with wireless access courtesy of Sierra Wireless Inc.s AirCard 555 1xRTT wireless adapter. For connectivity, we could have used any modem or network adapter that provided access to the Internet.
The contacts, messages and calendar entries we synchronized showed up in the native data stores of our test devices, where we could work with the data and synchronize it back to our Exchange server.
We could send mail messages through our Exchange account using the test device, but we were not able to send attachments.
A Lot for It to Like
a desktop-client-based synchronization product such as Workstyle can be attractive for IT-sanctioned deployments as well—particularly for IT departments supporting limited numbers of users in small- to-midsize companies or in departments within larger organizations, where the prospect of having to install and maintain a new server-based solution often makes these sorts of synchronization services a tough sell.
Workstyle Desktop Editions functionality, general look and feel, and price scheme match those of the server-based synchronization product that Wireless Knowledge has been selling for the past few years. This means companies that deploy Workstyle Desktop Edition for certain employees will retain the option of switching to a server-based solution with limited hassle.
Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at [email protected]