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Dell pulls OS fix for handhelds

The company pulls from its Web site an operating system fix for its Axim handhelds after some people use the patch to do unauthorized upgrades from older versions of the OS.

Dell temporarily pulled from its Web site an operating system fix for its Axim X5 handhelds after some people used the patch to do unauthorized upgrades from older versions of the OS.

The Round Rock, Texas-based company began offering the patch Wednesday and pulled it later that day because people were hacking the patch and using it to upgrade handhelds that run Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 to Windows Mobile 2003 software for Pocket PC, the latest version of Microsoft's handheld operating system, according to Dell spokesman Jess Blackburn. The patch was meant to fix performance problems that Axim owners were experiencing with new devices installed with Windows Mobile 2003.

"We're looking to develop a more secure way of getting the fix to Axim owners and to prevent the unauthorized use of the fix," Blackburn said.

The company is exploring ways to distribute the patch to only those affected by the performance issues. The patch will be offered on CD in two to three weeks.

Starting next week, the company will offer consumers a $29 CD, which will allow them to upgrade devices that use the Pocket PC 2002 OS to the latest version of the operating system.

The company updated its Axim X5 handhelds with the Windows Mobile 2003 software in late June to offer new features and improve performance. But the upgrade backfired due to a glitch that actually slowed the handheld's performance.

Many new Axim owners discovered the issue in early July when their orders for the handhelds began arriving. Dell acknowledged the problem July 16, saying it was related to software it created to work with the Microsoft operating system. Dell halted shipments of the new handhelds the same day. The computer seller's fix will remedy the software glitch and boost performance of the Axim X5, Dell representatives said.

Dell has been gaining ground quickly in the handheld market. Despite declining shipment numbers in the overall handheld market, the company has risen to fourth place worldwide in handheld shipments. During the second quarter, Dell had 6.7 percent of a market of 2.27 million units, according to IDC.