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ActiveSync 3.x Desktop Software Guide


Since the initial release of Microsoft Windows CE 2, Microsoft have undertaken new strategies in unified product integration. This primarily was focused towards Microsoft Windows CE 3 and - in version 3.7 and above - CE 4. However the desktop software that they produced was also made compatible with Windows CE 2.0, 2.01, 2.1, 2.11 and 2.12.

In July 1999, with the original PC ActiveSync release, ActiveSync 3.0.9204. Windows CE Services and the file synchronisation application ActiveSync into one desktop application, Microsoft ActiveSync.

Microsoft ActiveSync is not compatible with Microsoft Windows CE Version 1.0x due to the vast differences between communication methods, and file formats.

This document describes ActiveSync Version 3.x

ActiveSync 3.x Logo

ActiveSync 3 - History

ActiveSync 3.0 ( was released on August 16th 1999 and heralded Microsoft's first real proactive effort to get its sync client "right by the end user". Developed specifically around user feedback on the failings of Windows CE Services, ActiveSync 3.0 was to be faster, simplified, and vastly improved. ActiveSync removed the association between RAS/DUN and the Windows CE connection stack - solving the biggest headache encountered by consumers of H/PC Explorer and Windows CE Services. Any user, under any platform could be up and running in as few as 6 mouse clicks.
ActiveSync 3.0 was replaced on the 24th November 1999 with version 3.1. ActiveSync 3.1 was reissued 3 times. The original release build number 3.1.9386 was superseded by 3.1.9439 and later 3.1.9587 both of which continued to build on the features of the original desktop software. The most highlighted improvement of 3.1's evolution was the work on USB synchronisation and the inclusion of the AvantGo host client. Although still remaining unreliable, the process was greatly improved. 3.1 also improved on security issues and synchronisation performance. Of significant use for users of older, serial based devices was the inclusion of a feature that would automatically adjust the baud rate of the host computers serial port to match that selected on the mobile device.
The the final 3.1.9587 release added synchronisation support for the then new Microsoft Exchange Server 2000, combated problems encountered with the new Outlook 98 / 2000 Security updates and fixed a problem with the USB sync option not being enabled after running the 'Get Connected' wizard. The OEM CD which shipped with new devices was also updated to include Windows Media Player 7, Pocket Streets 2001 and new regional versions of Transcriber.
The final interim release on the 31st July 2001 was the final release of the Microsoft Mobile device synchronisation client that officially supports Schedule+ and the last to officially support Windows 95.
Both ActiveSync 3.0 and 3.1 were give the development codename Xena.

In August 2001 Microsoft released ActiveSync 3.5. ActiveSync 3.5's Primary focus was to provide integrated support for the new Windows and Office XP releases that were to come at the end of the year, as well as for the pending release of Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 (The fourth generation sister Product to Microsoft H/PC). 3.5 also improved once more on the USB functionality, security and sync performance. New connection sounds were also included in this release.
ActiveSync 3.5 was revised from build 1176 to build 12007 in February 2002. The re-release included a revised high colour program icon in tune with the new Windows XP graphical user interface.

In November 2002 ActiveSync 3.6 was released. 3.6 was released to add support for the new range of Windows CE powered Smartphone devices as well as provide customary security updates and synchronisation performance improvements. A new Get Connected Wizard was also included to simplify the configuration of new devices. Of note to network and remote access users 3.6 improves on remote synchronisation by preventing error messages and dialogues from halting the sync process. ActiveSync 3.6.2148 was short lived, soon to be replaced with ActiveSync 3.7.
Build 3.6.2148 was reissued as a driver signature file was accidentally omitted from the original installer package.

April 2003 spelled the release of ActiveSync 3.7. 3.7.3083 included minor cosmetic updates to the internal icon set. The new icons bring ActiveSync's visual style in line with Outlook 2003. 3.7 also corrects a discovered security flaw in ActiveSync.
Improvements to the synchronisation wizard, other UI changes and general enhancements are also part of 3.7. ActiveSync 3.7 also includes improvements required to support the forthcoming Microsoft Office 2003 release due Autumn 2003 and the 23rd June 2003 released Windows Mobile 2003 (Formerly known as Pocket PC 2003).

In October 2003 ActiveSync 3.7.1 was released with build number Containing improvements to the USB drivers and issues related to synchronisation over USB cradle connection the interim update was released simply to bug fix although the Get Connected Wizard's interface was modified slightly.
As with ActiveSync 3.5 in February 2004 ActiveSync 3.7.1 was quietly updated from the live-download site, the new build number being The release focused on fixing some reported bugs with Windows Explorer and XP Firewall integration. The copyright date information was not updated to reflect the roll-over into 2004.

The current release is ActiveSync 3.8. ActiveSync was released on January 6th 2005. The release was targeted to secure functionality and provide updates for Windows XP SP2 systems. The 3.8 update is purely a maintenance release and provides performance improvements in synchronisation and synchronisation / cradle services speed. ActiveSync 3.8 circumvents the XP Firewall prompts that users experienced with other program versions upon first run.
As an extension of the security initiative, ActiveSync 3.8 also disables the Ethernet (LAN, BlueTooth) and RAs (Modem and WAN) connection method by default, including on upgrade installations.
As in its predecessor the copyright information remains unchanged, as do the readme files - which remain representative of ActiveSync 3.7.0.
ActiveSync 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.7.1 and 3.8 were given the development codename Medusa.

Most of the product fixes found in ActiveSync version updates revolve around the Pocket PC Operating System and USB connectivity. Fixes of note to Windows CE 2.0 users are improved synchronisation reliability between Windows CE and Office, and Infrared Connectivity support In Windows 2000.

System Requirements for Version 3.0 / 3.1 / 3.5 / 3.6 / 3.7 / 3.7.1 / 3.8

  • Minimum System Processor
    • 486 at 66 MHz or Higher for Windows 95 / 98 / NT 4 Service Pack 6 or above
    • Pentium 150 MHz or Higher for Windows Millennium
    • Pentium 166 MHz of Higher for Windows 2000
    • Pentium 233 MHz or Higher for Windows XP / Windows 2003 Server
  • Minimum System Memory
    • 16 MB RAM for Windows 95 / 98 / NT 4
    • 32 MB RAM for Windows Millennium
    • 64 MB RAM for Windows 2000
    • 128 MB RAM for Windows XP / Windows 2003 Server
  • 12 - 65 MB Hard Disk Space (Depending of Selected Components and current system configuration)
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 SP1 or Higher (Internet Explorer 6.0 SP1 recommended)
  • 1 free 9 or 25 pin communications port for Sync Cable
  • 256 Colour VGA compatible display adapter
  • Keyboard & Pointing device
  • Outlook 98 or later required for PIM synchonisation

Operating System Requirements:

  • Sound Card & Speakers
  • Microsoft Office 97, 2000, XP (2002) or 2003
  • IrDA compatible Infrared or Fast Infrared port
  • Available USB 1.1 or 2.0 Port
  • Modem for RAs synchronisation
  • Wired or Wireless Local Are Network for remote synchronisation


Microsoft ActiveSync is designed for Handheld PC's running Windows CE 2.0, 2.11, 2.12 and 3.0 ONLY. Please select the version that you require. Unless you have a special requirement for a older version of ActiveSync HPC Factor recommends that all users download and install ActiveSync 3.8.

NB: HPC Factor recommends that all H/PC users download and install ActiveSync 3.8 for the latest enhancements and bug fixes

Please check to see of your operating system is compatible with the ActiveSync software by checking the Compatibility table
For Windows CE 1 based Handheld PC desktop software please see Handheld PC Explorer 1.1

Software Compatibility

Operating System Compatibility Notes
MSDOS Logo MS-DOS No Requires a Microsoft Windows Operating Environment
Windows 3.1x Logo Windows 3.1x No No 16 bit software available
Windows NT 3.51 Logo Windows NT 3.51 No No software available for this interface
Windows 95 Logo Windows 95, A, B, C Yes MSIE 4.01 SP1 : 3.0 / 3.1 (Officially)
Windows NT 4.0 Logo Windows NT 4.0 Yes SP6a : MSIE 4.01 SP1 : 3.0 / 3.1 / 3.5 / 3.6 / 3.7 / 3.8
Windows 98 Logo Windows 98 Yes 3.0 / 3.1 / 3.5 / 3.6 / 3.7 / 3.8
Windows 98 SE Logo Windows 98 SE Yes 3.0 / 3.1 / 3.5 / 3.6 / 3.7 / 3.8
Windows 2000 Logo Windows 2000 Yes 3.1 / 3.5 / 3.6 / 3.7 / 3.8
Windows Millennium Logo Windows Millennium Yes 3.1 / 3.5 / 3.6 / 3.7 / 3.8
Windows XP Logo Windows XP Yes 3.5 / 3.6 / 3.7 / 3.8
Windows Server 2003 Logo Windows Server 2003 Yes 3.6 / 3.7 / 3.8
Windows Vista Logo Windows Vista No Disabled by Application Compatibility
Windows Vista Logo Windows 7 No Disabled by Application Compatibility
Windows Vista Logo Windows Server 2008 No Disabled by Application Compatibility
Windows Vista Logo Windows 8 No Disabled by Application Compatibility
Windows Vista Logo Windows Server 2012 No Disabled by Application Compatibility
Mac OS Logo Mac OS No Requires a PC Emulator
Linux 'Tux' Logo Linux No Requires a Windows Emulator
Unix 'BSD' Logo Unix No Requires a Microsoft Windows Operating Environment

For more information see CESD-S-0021


  1. To Install Microsoft ActiveSync. Click on the download link for the version you require.
  2. Read and if you agree, accept the End User License Agreement (EULA)
  3. Download the file, saving it to your hard disk
  4. Run the downloaded .exe installation file and follow the instructions on the screen
  5. You can safely update an existing ActiveSync installation with the latest version. If you are upgrading from Windows CE Services please uninstall it first from the Windows Control Panel

NB: You may be prompted for you Microsoft Windows installation media during set-up

Setting Up ActiveSync

 Configuring the connection on the desktop computer - via a serial cable

  Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000 (NT 5), XP (NT 5.1):

  1. ActiveSync will automatically Configure the port settings and speeds

 Configuring the connection on the desktop computer - via a infrared port

  Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 (NT 5), XP (NT 5.1):

  1. ActiveSync will automatically Configure the port settings and speeds Windows 95 Only - Install the Infrared driver support as follows:
    1. From the Windows CE Services compact disc, run Setup.exe*.
    2. From the Windows CE Services Setup dialogue box, select Optional Components.
    3. From the Setup Windows 95 Infrared Communications Driver v2.0 directory, run Setup.exe. When asked to specify a virtual port, choose a port that does not exist on your desktop computer (usually COM3 will work).
  2. On your desktop computer, open the Mobile Devices folder, and on the File menu, click Communications.
  3. For Port, select the virtual COM port. Click Install New Port to add the infrared port if necessary.
  4. On your mobile device, set up a new connection, choosing Infrared port as the connection method.
  5. In Control Panel, open the Infrared (Wireless Connection) applet. Make sure to Enable infrared communications.  Test your connection by sending a file from your mobile device and check for your mobile device to appear in the Infrared dialogue box.

* The Windows 95 IrDA drivers can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Centre, see Q139445 for more information

 Changing the Connection Port

  1. Start Microsoft ActiveSync
  2. Double Click on the ActiveSync icon in the Windows taskbar
  3. From the File Menu select 'Connection Settings...'
  4. Select your desired port:
    1. Select 'Allow serial cable or infrared connection to this COM port' for any COM port or Infrared Connection
    2. Some newer HPC2000 or CE4 or higher devices allow for USB synchronisation. To enable USB support check 'Allow USB connection with this desktop computer'
    3. If you plan to use a network or remote access to synchronise your device enable the third option

NB: In this menu you can choose whether to display the ActiveSync icon in the taskbar. It is suggested that you leave it on

Creating a new Connection

  1. Start Microsoft ActiveSync
  2. Double Click on the ActiveSync icon in the Windows taskbar
  3. From the File Menu select 'Get Connected...'
  4. Follow the instructions on the screen

 Connecting your H/PC and desktop computer - H/PC Set-up

To connect via a Serial Connection:
      Open 'Control Panel', select Communications and enter the 'PC Connection' tab
       Select the Com Port on the device and the baud rate you wish to use.
       Tap OK and return to the desktop
       Connect your Serial Cable to your desktop and then to your device
       Run PC Link from the 'Communications' menu in the H/PC's 'Start Menu'

To connect via an Infrared Connection:
     Line up the infrared port on your mobile device with the desktop computer's infrared port.  Use PC Link to open the connection from your mobile device as described in set up a new connection.

ActiveSync Logo

Synchronising Your Data

To Synchronise your data from your desktop you will need Schedule + installed, or Microsoft Outlook 98 and above. Microsoft Outlook Express, provided as part of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 and above can not be used to synchronise PIM information to a Windows CE based PDA.

To begin data synchronisation connect your device to the desktop computer and if automatic synchronisation does not begin. Start Microsoft ActiveSync:

Start > Programs > ActiveSync

Press the 'Sync' Button in the button menu, or select 'Synchronise' from the 'File' menu

Backing Up Your Data

To Back-up your device, connect it to your desktop computer under an established partnership (Guest users are not permitted to back-up). In 'Mobile Devices' click on the 'Tools' menu and select 'Backup/Restore'.

In the Backup tab, you can select whether you wish to perform a full backup, or just backup the information that has changed since the last backup.

Finally, whether you would like a backup to be made upon device connect

NB: You can specify where you would like to make the backup, such as external storage for safe keeping


ActiveSync is equipped with an uninstall routine. To uninstall ActiveSync:

  1. Make sure that you have made copies of the backup files from your device, should you need to reinstall the CE 2 software and personal files onto your H/PC
  2. Open Control Panel
  3. Double Click Add/Remove Programs 
  4. Double Click on 'Microsoft ActiveSync 3.x' (Where x is the minor version number)
  5. Follow the on screen instructions