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Handspring: Don't touch that download

The handheld maker is warning customers outside of New Zealand and Singapore to not download new network software. Other region-specific downloads are coming soon.

Handspring is warning customers outside of certain geographical areas to not install a software upgrade that allows its Treo Communicator to run on next-generation cell phone networks.

The handheld maker has released an upgrade for Treo owners in New Zealand and Singapore only. The software, available from one of Handspring's Asian distributors, is designed to allow faster data access using new always-on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks.

Handspring has long promised that a similar upgrade would soon be made available for Treo customers worldwide, but says the current version is designed only for those specific markets.

Word of the upgrade, however, quickly spread to handheld enthusiast sites with many Treo owners looking for the download.

Handspring said that it won't support customers outside of New Zealand and Singapore that download the software and encounter problems. There is also no way to undo the upgrade, the company said.

"We cannot guarantee your experience nor will we support it if you choose to use a version of the upgrade that has not been released in your market with your mobile operator," Handspring said in a statement.

"Handspring will roll out GPRS to broader markets worldwide over the next several months and we urge you to wait until your mobile operator is supported before installing the GPRS Upgrade on your Treo Communicator."

The updates are based on regional specifications, a Handspring representative said, and might not work properly in other areas.

The installer program for the upgrade is designed to check for a SIM card that indicates that the device has service from a carrier in the selected region. Handspring acknowledged that there are ways of circumventing that process.

The Treo went on sale earlier this year. Early versions operated over GSM networks, many of which are now being upgraded to also offer GPRS service. Handspring recently introduced a model that runs on Sprint's high-speed network.