Dell handhelds get glitch fix

The company readies a pair of software upgrades for its Axim X5 device, including a performance fix for some models and an optional operating system upgrade for others.

John G. Spooner Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Spooner
covers the PC market, chips and automotive technology.
John G. Spooner
2 min read
Dell is ready to deliver a pair of software upgrades for its Axim X5 handheld, including a performance fix for some models and an optional operating system upgrade for others.

The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker began shipping on Thursday a free update CD that contains software to remedy a performance glitch that affects Axim X5 models shipped with Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 Software for Pocket PC before July 16, a company representative said.

Meanwhile, Dell has also set a date to begin delivering an operating system upgrade for Axim X5 owners who wish to move up from Microsoft's Pocket PC 2002 to the Windows Mobile 2003 software. Delivery of the $29 upgrade had been delayed by the software glitch.

Dell will begin shipping Windows Mobile 2003 upgrade CDs in the United States and most other countries on Sept. 17. CDs with the OS upgrade began shipping in Europe this week, she said.

The software updates should help Dell bring its Axim X5 customers up-to-date. The Axim X5 is an important product for the company as it's the first handheld to carry the Dell brand. The device has already made its presence known: Dell held almost 7 percent of the handheld market during the second quarter of 2003, according to IDC.

Dell responded fairly quickly to reports of the Axim X5 glitch, ultimately delaying shipments of the handheld by about two weeks as it developed the upgrade. But the glitch disappointed at least a few Axim owners who vented their frustrations online using Web forums, including Dell's own tech support site.

The problem, Dell said, was a flaw in software code that it wrote to interact with the Windows Mobile 2003 operating system. The glitch visibly saps the performance of affected Axim X5 models.

The company had originally hoped to offer a fix to affected Axim X5 owners as a download from its Web site. Dell posted the update for a short time, but other owners used the software to upgrade their handhelds to Windows Mobile 2003, causing Dell to remove the update from the site a short time later.

Dell, which also said it would ship the update on a CD, set a target date of late August to begin delivering the CDs, but missed that mark.

The performance glitch, which first cropped up in late June, affects only versions of the handheld sold before July 16. Dell held shipments between July 16 and July 30. The company will not say how many Axim X5s were affected by the software glitch.