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Downloading & Installing FAQ

Anti-virus precautions:

Please note that off-site files have not been checked for viruses. When downloading from any Internet site, it is strongly recommended that you have a virus checker installed and running. Should you wish, a free anti-virus program, InnoculateIT, is available to download courtesy of Computer Associates. For more information and resources, check out the McAfee Anti-Virus Center and Symantec AntiVirus Research Center.

Processor guide:

With most software, you will be offered a choice of files to download - these relate to the different processors used in each Pocket PC.

Below is a guide to what you should choose for your particular device:

Pocket PC Processor
Casio (all devices) MIPS
Compaq (Aero 1550) MIPS
Compaq (iPAQ) ARM
Hewlett Packard (all devices) SH3
Palmax (PD-131) MIPS
Palmax (PD-60M, PD-600C) ARM
Symbol (all devices) MIPS

The information in the above list was taken from the PDA comparison lists (which go into far greater detail) at CEWindows.NET. If you spot a mistake or know of a device which isn't listed, please let me know. To check the processor type on your device, select System in Control Panel, or consult your device's documentation.

Note that Pocket PC's can run the vast majority of software written for the Palm-size PC without a problem. However, you will need to ensure that you download the appropriate version that is compatible with your device's processor type. For example, software written for the MIPS and SH3 processors will not run on the ARM (also known as "StrongARM") processor of the Compaq iPAQ.


Often, programs downloaded from the Internet take the form of a zip file - this is a compression format which allows for far faster download times. To actually retrieve the files, you will need a decompression program (or 'unzipper'), such as WinZip.

Normally, there will be documentation included with the download. Look for a file such as readme.txt or readme.doc which should tell you how to install the program on your device. However, if there are no instructions, then you should do the following according to the file type:

  • If it is an executable (i.e. with the extension .exe or .com), try running it on your regular PC as it will probably be an installer. If you receive an error message stating that the program was not designed to run with your version of Windows, this means that it is a Windows CE program and you should then copy the program across to your device and run it from there.

  • If it is an executable but won't run on your regular PC, then the chances are that there is no install program and that it is designed to be run directly on your Pocket PC. Therefore, you should copy it across to your Pocket PC. 

  • Alternatively, if the file extension is .cab, you should copy it across to your Pocket PC using ActiveSync's file explorer (click the "Explore" button) and run it from there. Note that a .cab extension indicates an installer for the program, rather than the actual program itself.

  • If you encounter a compression format you don't recognise, the University of Victoria has a useful Encoding and Compressing page listing the various formats and programs available.

Further Help & Information

If you have any more questions, feel free to mail me and I will do my best to help out. Alternatively, for a response that will most likely be more rapid and more accurate, you can post a message on one of the following newsgroups:

1. microsoft.public.pocketpc (for Pocket PC owners)

2. microsoft.public.handheldpc (for Handheld PC owners)

3. microsoft.public.palmsizepc (for Palm-sized PC owners)


If you have a question which isn't covered, feel free to mail me.

For additional useful information and help, Microsoft's Pocket PC FAQ is a good place to look.

The best method to get an answer to any Windows CE related question, however, is probably through the newsgroups:

1. Pocket PC

2. Handheld PC

3. Palm-sized PC

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