After repeated delays, 3Com/Palm Computing has posted a public beta of its Macintosh Palm Desktop 2.1 on its Web site. We typically don't report on beta releases, but in this case Mac-based PalmPilot and Palm III users have waited for months for the new software, which replaces the awkward Pilot Desktop 1.0 (see "Palm Organizer for Macintosh: Details Emerge" in TidBITS 432), and has troubles with Mac OS 8.5. In addition to offering the ability to synchronize data with Palm organizers, Palm Desktop 2.1 includes Claris Organizer features not available on the Windows version, such as the ability to link records, advanced data filtering and viewing options, and customizable background patterns. Most significantly, the package also includes new HotSync conduit software, allowing third-party developers to write synchronization modules that work with their software's data (for example, a conduit is in the works to translate FileMaker data to the JFile format on the Palm OS). Keep in mind that this is beta software, so back up your handheld's data (one good method is to use Florent Pillet's PalmBuddy) before installing, and consult the installation ReadMe file for known problems in this build (such as turning off File Sharing before installation, and rebuilding your Mac's desktop before running the application). The Palm Desktop 2.1 beta is available as a 8.9 MB download, and requires a Power PC-based Mac.
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