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The Palm OS Clings To Life

Palm released a significant update to its Treo 680 and Treo 700p smartphones on Thursday that adds business-friendly features to the Palm OS, like Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for automatic delivery of wireless e-mail and improved security. But Palm faces a challenge. It's a hardware company that uses an operating system with an uncertain future, and it has a limited ability to change the perception that the "Palm OS is dead."

Business professionals have been reluctant to trade in their BlackBerrys for Palm OS-based Treos because they didn't come with out-of-the-box "push" E-mail, which automatically transmits e-mail messages that have been received by a server to a mobile device. The Treo 680 and 700p both have a built-in e-mail application called VersaMail that has to be scheduled to pull e-mail out of a server every few minutes.

With the latest update, Treo users get automatic wireless delivery of e-mail, calendar, and contact information. The service doesn't require middleware since it can directly access Microsoft Exchange Servers, but IT organizations need to have deployed Exchange Server 2003 SP2 or Exchange 2007.

The update introduces another feature that's critical to IT administrators: security and central management. It includes over-the-air password policy enforcement and the ability to remotely wipe mobile devices clean of data if they're lost or stolen.

In October, Palm rolled out the Treo 680, its latest GSM quad-band smartphone running the Palm OS. The smartphone caters to consumers with multimedia features for shooting video, creating photo slideshows, and recording personal ring tones. Now Palm hopes to also attract a business crowd.

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