February 05, 2002


2002-02-04: At the World Economic Forum--Davos-in-NY--they handed out free Windows CE Compaq "ipaq" palmtops to serve as meeting planners, schedulers, and information-distribution devices. They didn't really work for the purposes for which they were distributed (although they are very nice computers for other purposes). By the time I picked mine up, the earnest person behind the desk was telling me to (a) let it synchronize often, (b) stay still while it synchronized, (c) be sure to try to synchronize only where you would have a good signal, (d) that under the conference load the systems were proving "temperamental," and (e) not to try to use it to send email.

So the first thing I did was try to use it to send one (1) email. It crashed. I reset it and used it to browse around the meeting schedule for a little while. It was slow. Then I downloaded some news headlines. Then I discovered that it *only* downloaded headlines--that there was no way to get to the stories that I could find. Then I used it to try to download the superbowl score: it crashed, restarted, announced that it had to download 8000 webpages immediately, took 45 minutes to do so, crashed again, restarted, announced that the avantgo software had no channels installed, and was a useless brain-dead hulk for the rest of the meeting.

Stripped of its "meeting companion" software configuration, however, it seems a quite nice machine, the ipaq. But no easy way to sync it with my Macs. So I'm sticking with my two-year-old Visor.

The outside of the ipaq bag has--in big letters--Compaq, Microsoft, Accenture. I find myself wondering just what they were thinking in selling the Davos-in-NY people a meeting-planner-and-wireless-communicator that chokes when it tries to send wireless email, has a mean-time-to-crash of 15 minutes, and has software sufficiently unstable that crash number 4 wipes key parts of its software installation and puts it into a brain-dead state. Did the Accenture people not test it at all? Did they fail to test it under anything like the load it would get during the meeting? Why would Microsoft want its Windows CE operating system associated with such an unstable applications package as the AvantGo system used by Accenture? Why would Microsoft want WindowsCE to be demonstrated on a computer like the ipaq that apparently doesn't have the horsepower or the wireless bandwidth to satisfy the one-second or even the ten-second rule? Why is Compaq associating its name with software companies like Microsoft and consultancies like Accenture that overpromise what its machines can actually deliver?

Unless the average experience was very different from mine, a lot of people left that meeting thinking that neither Compaq, Microsoft, nor Accenture should be trusted with any part of Our Digital Future...

Posted by DeLong at February 5, 2002 04:16 PM | TrackBack

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