I am going to begin a multipart subset of this blog, called “I Exchange, Do You?”
For a lot of us, the centralization of all of all PIM data is Outlook. We use syncing cables to keep our Pocket PC phones and Smartphones synced with our desktop and laptop. Or at least, this is how I had been living my life: always tethered to my sync cables. Does that sound like you?
As many are aware, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 (with SP2) has been designed to keep all devices of a given user in sync, and this service is used especially in a corporate setting. That means that if the user adds or modifies a contact or calendar item on his WM-based phone, moments later, the changes are mirror on his desktop. With email, the current states (read, unread, etc) are also mirrored on each device. On the WM device, syncing occurs wirelessly via ActiveSync, which, at scheduled intervals, will connect with the Exchange server that you’re using. Everything is constantly updated, like magic.
And for a brief explanation of how Exchange handles new email: if you get a new email message, the exchange server sends an invisible SMS to your WM device to initiate ActiveSync to find and “pull” down the new mail message from the server. This isn’t “true push” yet (because the SMS is an extra step), but with AKU2, no SMS will be needed.
But for the average Joe, or small business, we can’t have this functionality, because we don’t have thousands of dollars to build an Exchange Server infrastructure. If only there a way to get the benefits of Exchange without dropping a lot of cash. Oh wait, this blog is all about solutions, and I’ve got one for you.
It’s called an Exchange hosted solution. While there are several available, I’ve recently signed up with 4Smartphone (despite the name, it’s not only for Smartphone), which offers hosting starting at just under $4 a month (that’s less than a sandwich!). I liked the service so much, that I signed up pocketnow.com with their affiliate program to try to spur our readers to try the service (note the banner on left). A trial is available for those that want to give it a try.
I’ve just begun using the hosted exchange account, and I’ve got a lot to say about the overall experience. More coming up soon.