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Using MSN as Your Internet Service Provider
 
By Todd Ogasawara

INTRODUCTION

BASIC REQUIREMENTS
CONNECTING TO MSN
ACCESSING MSN E-MAIL
HINTS AND TIPS
OTHER MSN SERVICES
MORE INFORMATION

Introduction
You can use MSN as the Internet Service Provider for your handheld, palm-size, or Pocket PC. I will try to give you the information you need to configure your unit and provide tips to maximize your Web experience. This article focuses on accessing the Internet using a modem that connects to a conventional telephone line. It does not discuss wireless access techniques.

Basic requirements
Here is what you need to use your Windows CE system and MSN to surf the Web.

1. MSN access phone number
Use your desktop PC to connect to the Internet and visit the MSN Access Phone Numbers Web page. Follow the instructions there to find the MSN access phone number you want.

2. Browser
Handheld PCs, handheld PC professional units, and Pocket PC systems all come with some built-in version of Internet Explorer. Palm-size PCs do not. However, there are two third-party browsers that you can download, purchase, and use. Find these two browsers linked below:

Conduits PocketBrowser

Foliage Software Systems iBrowser

Note that the handheld PC professional Internet Explorer browser can be modified to work with Web sites that require 128-bit encryption. You can find this add-on for use in the U.S. and Canada at the link below:

128-bit Security for Pocket Internet Explorer 3.0

3. Modem
Most handheld PC and handheld PC professional units have a built-in 33.6 (V.34) or 56K (V.90) modem. However, many of these built-in modems are the so-called "soft modem" type that uses your systemís microprocessor for modem functions. This means that you may see your system really slow down while using the modem. If this is the case with your system, you may want to consider buying a hardware-based PC Card (PCMCIA) modem. Please make certain that any PC Card modem you purchase is not a "soft modem" or "win modem." These so-called controller-less modems need special software that will not run on your Windows CE unit.

None of the Palm-size or Pocket PCs has built-in modems, so you will definitely have to buy a CompactFlash modem for your system. I use the Casio CompactFlash Fax/Data Modem JK-711MC56 with my Pocket PCs. Although it is made by Casio, I found it works perfectly with my HP Jornada 545 and upgraded Compaq Aero 1520 Pocket PCs.

You can read reviews of the CompactFlash modems from Pretec and Xircom in the PocketPC.com reviews linked below.

Connection to MSN
Jason Dunn has an excellent illustrated tutorial titled Configuring Your Dial-Up Connection on PocketPC.com. The article focuses on the Pocket PC. However, the instructions are nearly identical for the handheld, handheld PC professional, and Palm-size PC. These differences, as well as the single MSN-specific detail, are described below.

You can find the Make New Connection icon to create an MSN connection entry on your handheld PC professional by tapping Start/Programs/Communication/Remote Networking/Make New Connection.

The only MSN-specific information you need to know is what to type in the User (handheld PC professional) or User name (Palm-size and Pocket PC) field. You need to prefix your MSN account name with "MSN/" (note the forward slash after MSN) in the User or User name field. So, if your MSN account name is jsmith, then you should type in:

MSN/jsmith

You can read more about this requirement in the Microsoft Support article titled Using MSN as Your Internet Service Provider with Windows CE.

Accessing MSN email
MSN has a unique POP3 email server. It uses a feature called Secure Password Authentication (SPA) to provide additional security. Unfortunately, Pocket Inbox is unable to deal with this feature. You can read the details of this issue in the Microsoft Support articled titled Cannot Use MSN E-mail Service with Pocket Inbox.

Fortunately, there are ways to work around the MSN POP-SPA3 issue. The Pocket PC has the simplest solution. There is a free add-on from Microsoft that modifies the Pocket PC Pocket Inbox to let it work with MSNís POP3-SPA server. You can read about how to download and install this add-on in the article titled MSN E-mail for Pocket PC.

Handheld PC professional and palm-size PC users can use the Web-based Hotmail email service to retrieve and read MSN email. Hotmail is the only Web-based email service that can work with MSNís POP3-SPA server. You can read how to configure Hotmail to work with MSN in the Microsoft Support article titled How to Check MSN E-mail on Windows CE HPC Device.

Craig Peacockís PocketPC.com article titled Web-based E-mail will help you get started in using Hotmail on your Pocket PC.

A third way to access your MSN email is an offline solution. It assumes that you synchronize your email with your desktop PC running Outlook 97, 98, or 2000. In this case, you retrieve your MSN email using your desktop or notebook PC. You would then synchronize your Windows CE device with Outlook to synchronize email. Then, you could read and respond to email on your Windows CE device while not connected to the Internet. You can read how to set up this configuration in Stefano Valenziís PocketPC.com article titled Getting Your E-mail Synchronized.

Hints and Tips
Here are a few hints and tips to help you maximize using MSN and your Windows CE device.

  • If your handheld PC professional has a soft-modem, consider using a hardware-based PC Card (PCMCIA) modem to improve performance.
  • If graphics and photographs take too long to appear in Internet Explorer, you may want to turn off seeing pictures. You do this on the handheld PC professional by performing the following steps in Internet Explorer: View, Options, uncheck the Show Pictures Option. You can do this on the Pocket PC by performing these steps in Internet Explorer: Tools, Options, Advanced, uncheck the Show Pictures options.
  • You can view Web pages offline by using the Mobile Favorites feature. You can learn how to do this by reading Chris Muenchís PocketPC.com article titled Working With Mobile Favorites.
  • Craig Peacock has good advice in View Web Sites Designed for Large Monitors on Your Pocket PC Screen.
Other MSN Services
BSQUARE Messenger gives you real-time messaging access to MSN Messenger users. It is no longer directly available from bSQUARE. However it is available in the free (for Pocket PC owners) Pocket PC Starter Pak for Dummies.

Ruksun IRCNEWS Force lets you talk to other people on IRC chat servers like MSN Chat does.

More Information
Pocket PC FAQ-The Frequently Asked Questions
Todd's Articles on Microsoft's PocketPC.com