Palm, Inc. has finally released Palm OS 3.5 as a stand-alone upgrade for owners of Palm organizers. Although Palm OS 3.5 has been pre-installed on new handhelds for several months, this is the first time the upgrade has been available for machines running Palm OS 3.3 and earlier. The new operating system offers a few improvements, including an Agenda view in the Date Book application for viewing appointments and to-do items simultaneously, direct access to menus by tapping the menu bar area, and a Command Bar for quickly accessing frequently used commands. Other improvements include a way to mask private records (instead of simply hiding them), the capability to assign a category to items beamed to your device, and support for faster synchronization operations. Before upgrading, be sure to back up your handheld’s data with a utility such as Palm Buddy or BackupBuddy; the upgrade is a hardware modification that overwrites the handheld’s memory, and Palm’s built-in backup isn’t guaranteed to restore all third-party applications on the Mac. Confusingly, the Palm OS 3.5 upgrade costs $15 for a 1.3 MB downloaded version, or $20 for a version on CD-ROM. However, owners of Palm Vx devices are able to upgrade for free, though Palm has offered no explanation of why this is so. Also, once you’ve installed Palm OS 3.5, Palm recommends applying the Palm OS 3.5.2 update (a 3K download), which corrects a few incompatibilities with third-party software.
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