Okay, I realize that Palm handheld computers aren’t really much in use anymore, but there are still a few of us diehards that use it for a specific purpose. In my case, it’s for running GOLog, my ham radio field contest logger. If you’re wondering if you can run Palm Desktop on a modern Windows computer, read on.
Truthfully, there’s not much to installing and running Palm Desktop. The latest version is 6.2 and can be downloaded from here. I’ve installed it on two computers here–a Windows 7 32-bit netbook and my Windows 7 64-bit desktop. The installer for Palm Desktop should run without a hitch.
Palm’s help files for using Palm Desktop and HotSync Manager are pretty complete, and I’m not going to describe in detail how to use either of those applications, so consult those help files if you need additional information on using those applications.
The main issues begin to arise when you try to HotSync one of your devices. Palm Desktop allows you to HotSync using a serial connection, a USB connection, and over the network. In addition, you can configure Bluetooth-enabled Palms to HotSync via Bluetooth. By far, though, the easiest to set up are serial and USB HotSync’ing. None of my computers has an actual serial port these days, but a decent USB-serial converter cable will work with HotSync Manager–just plug in the cable, figure out its port number (COM1, COM2, etc.), and tell HotSync Manager to do a serial HotSync through that port. In this configuration, if HotSync Manager starts up when the USB-serial cable isn’t plugged in, HotSync Manager will display a warning message that the port is not available. This is harmless–just make sure you plug in the cable before you try to HotSync (obviously–how would you HotSync otherwise?).
HotSync’ing via a USB port is a little more challenging. It works fine on Windows 7 32-bit machines–in my case, when I first plugged in my Palm to a USB port and powered it on, Windows automatically ran Windows Update to located a suitable driver and installed it–no intervention on my part. After that, USB HotSync worked fine.
USB HotSync’ing on Windows 7 64-bit proved problematic initially. Palm states specifically that this will not work, but I learned that 64-bit USB drivers for Palm OS devices were available From Aceeca here. I downloaded and followed their instructions to install the drivers, and they worked perfectly!
The only other “gotcha” I experienced was that when I first attempted to HotSync with my old Handspring Visor, a fatal exception would occur during the HotSync process and it would fail. I finally tracked this down to the Package Installer application that HotSync Manager was trying to sync with my Visor. Once I disabled sync’ing of that application, everything else sync’ed smoothly.
Once I worked through the issues mentioned above, I’ve been able to HotSync all of my Palm OS devices (a Palm m100, a Palm T|X, and a Handspring Visor) without any issues.