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November 21, 2000
Palm OS 3.5 available, with one minor hitch for Handspring Visor users

Along with their MyPalm portal and Mobile Internet Kit announcements at Comdex, Palm also announced availability of the Palm OS 3.5 upgrade for the Palm III, Palm IIIx, Palm V, Palm Vx, and Palm VII. The upgrade for the Palm Vx is free, while the upgrade for the other units will be available for US$19.95 on CD-ROM, or US$14.95 via download. For owners of only one Palm or many Palms of the Palm brand, upgrade is a simple process, automated by a Java application. Those who sync a Handspring device along with a Palm device (as do I) will have a problem. I'm afraid I ran into quite a few problems with this download, since I tried to do it last Sunday, only a couple of days after the announcement, but most of them have been ironed out. The final remaining obstacle was new to the folks at Palm tech support--who unfortunately didn't even know the upgrade had been made available--but involved the above-mentioned conflict between the Handspring and Palm versions of the Palm Desktop. Note that the upgrades can be applied only to the device specified before download, and will not work with non-Palm products; no upgrade is currently available for Handspring devices.

For those upgrading a system that uses both a Palm and a Handspring device that syncs through USB, here's the solution as I found it:

1. Download the Palm Upgrade software, and let it install. Follow all instructions. When you come to the point where it fails, it will say, "The Palm OS Software upgrade utility encountered an error reading the handheld's product code. As a result, the software upgrade cannot continue. Timeout error." Just press OK, and you'll be dumped back onto your desktop. (If this doesn't happen, either they've fixed the application and you should let me know, or else you didn't have the Handspring version of the desktop running.)

2. Close all programs, like the browser you used to download the software.

3. Locate and run the Palm Desktop. There should be an icon on your Windows Desktop. Before it timed out, the install program put Palm Desktop 3.1 on your system, but it didn't fully update some aspects of the HotSync application. If you run the new Palm Desktop application, however, it finishes its update and you'll be able to complete your OS upgrade.

4. Find the install file. Don't try to go back to the website link that Palm emails you, because that link will no longer work. Go to the Windows Explorer and look for your Palm directory. It will either be in the root directory if you've been a Palm customer for awhile, or it'll be in the Program Files directory. Inside the Palm directory, you'll find another directory where the upgrade software is stored; in my case the directory is called PalmOS3.5. Go into that directory and double click the install application (for the Palm VII it is called "PalmOS350_ENG_PalmVII.exe").

5. Allow the application to re-install the Palm Desktop and then follow its instructions for HotSyncing your device and installing the upgrade. The screen will look funny as it upgrades, but this is normal. After the upgrade is complete, reboot your Palm device and your computer. Then, if you want to continue to HotSync both your Palm and Handspring device, you'll need to reinstall your Handspring-specific Palm Desktop. This is true whether you sync to the Palm Desktop or some other PIM, like Outlook, because the main HotSync application must be upgraded to support HotSync with the Visor through a USB port. Because the application has been upgraded recently, you might want to download the latest version from the Handspring website.

Note that the download may be updated (hopefully) before you read this, rendering these instructions unnecessary... Keep me posted. -Shawn Barnett

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