A component of Microsoft Windows
ActiveSync 4.5 on Windows XP
Other names wcescomm.exe
Replaced by Windows Mobile Device Center
Initial release 1.0 / September 10, 1996
Stable release 4.5 / February 13, 2007
License EULA

ActiveSync is a mobile data synchronization technology and protocol developed by Microsoft, originally released in 1996. There are two implementations of the technology: one which synchronizes data and information with handheld devices with a specific desktop computer (originally known as Handheld PC Explorer), and another technology, commonly known as Exchange ActiveSync (or EAS), which provides push synchronization of contacts, calendars, tasks, and email between ActiveSync-enabled servers and devices.

Exchange ActiveSync is a proprietary protocol and is licensed to a number of mobile device companies, including Apple for iOS, Palm for its webOS devices, and Google for certain Android smartphones. Exchange ActiveSync technology is also used by other messaging and collaborative software servers, including Novell GroupWise and Lotus Domino and FuseMetrix. In the Windows Task Manager, the associated process is called wcescomm.exe.


Desktop ActiveSync

The desktop ActiveSync program allows a mobile device to be synchronized with either a desktop PC, or a server running Microsoft Exchange Server, Atmail, Axigen Mail Server, PostPath Email and Collaboration Server, Critical Path Messaging Server, Kerio Connect, Scalix, Zimbra or Z-push. Only Personal information manager (PIM) data (Email/Calendar/Contacts) may be synchronized with the Exchange Server. (Tasks may also be synchronized with Exchange Server on Windows Mobile 5.0 devices.) The PC synchronization option, however, allows PIM synchronization with Microsoft Outlook, along with Internet "favorites", files, and tasks, amongst other data types. ActiveSync doesn't support all features of Outlook. For instance, contacts grouped into subfolders aren't transferred. Only the contacts which are not in a subfolder are synchronized.

ActiveSync also provides for the manual transfer of files to a mobile device, along with limited backup/restore functionality, and the ability to install and uninstall mobile device applications.

Supported mobile devices include PDAs or Smartphones running Windows Mobile, or the Windows CE operating system, along with devices that don't use a Microsoft operating system,[1] such as the iPhone, Palm OS and Symbian platforms. Windows Phone 7 doesn't support desktop ActiveSync synchronization[2].

Starting with Windows Vista, ActiveSync has been replaced with the Windows Mobile Device Center, which is included as part of the operating system.[3]

Exchange ActiveSync

In addition to the ActiveSync desktop sync software bundled with Windows, Microsoft also uses the ActiveSync name to refer to the push messaging component of Exchange Server called Exchange ActiveSync, which relays messages to mobile devices.[4]

Release history

Version Operating systems Release date Major changes
1.0 Windows 95 1996-09-10
  • Initial version (under name H/PC Explorer)
1.1.7077 Windows 95, NT 4 1997-03-19
  • NT4 support
  • Stability and compatibility fixes
  • Revised EULA
2.0 Fall 1997
  • Renamed to Windows CE Services
  • Support for Windows CE 2
  • Windows CE 1 support dropped
2.1 1998-02
  • Support for Windows CE 2.1x
2.2 Windows 95, NT 4, 98 1998-09
  • NT4 installation easier
  • 33% faster than 2.1 1999-08-16
  • Renamed to ActiveSync
  • Faster, simplified, and vastly improved.
  • Removed the association between RAS/DUN and the Windows CE connection stack
3.1.9386 1999-11-24
  • USB synchronization and the inclusion of the AvantGo host client
  • Auto-adjusting baud rate
3.1.9439 Windows 95, NT 4, 98, 2000  ?
  • Sync fixes
3.1.9587 2001-07-31
  • Added synchronisation support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2000
  • Fixes for Outlook 98 / 2000 Security updates
  • Fixed a problem with the USB sync option
3.5.1176 Windows 95, NT 4, 98, 2000, XP 2001-08-06
  • Integrated support for new Windows XP and Office XP releases and Pocket PC 2002
  • Improved USB functionality, security and sync performance
  • New connection sounds
3.5.12007 2002-03-01
  • Revised high color program icon
3.6.2148 Windows 95, NT 4, 98, 2000, XP, 2003, Home Server 2002-11
  • Support for the new range of Smartphone devices
  • Customary security updates and synchronisation performance improvements
  • New Get Connected Wizard
  • Improves on remote synchronisation by preventing error messages and dialogues from halting sync process
3.7.3083 2003-05-06
  • Minor updates to internal icon set
  • Corrects a discovered security flaw in ActiveSync
  • Improvements to the synchronisation wizard, other UI changes and general enhancements
  • Improvements to support forthcoming Microsoft Office 2003 release and Windows Mobile 2003 2003-10-10
  • Improvements to USB drivers and issues related to synchronisation
  • Get Connected Wizard's interface modified slightly. 2004-03-26
  • Fixed reported bugs with Windows Explorer and XP Firewall integration.
3.8 2005-01-06
  • Secure functionality and provide updates for Windows XP SP2 systems
  • Performance improvements in synchronisation
  • Circumvents XP Firewall prompts that users experienced with other program versions upon first run.
  • Disables the Ethernet (LAN, Bluetooth) and RAS (Modem and WAN) connection method by default
4.0.4343 Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Home Server 2005
  • Users able to specify installation directory
  • Removal of on-personal area connectivity options from the synchronisation mix.
  • Services for connections with Microsoft SQL server are included, along with a synchronisation update for Windows Media Player 10
  • GUI refresh
4.0.4358 2005
  • Retail version included only on Windows Mobile 5 device CDs 2005-11-18
  • Critical update 2006-06-06
  • Microsoft Outlook improvements: Resolves issues relating to error code 85010014
  • Proxy/DTPT interaction improvements: Improved auto configuration of device Connection Manager settings when desktop has no proxy path to the Internet
  • Improved Desktop Pass Thru behavior with ISA proxy failures
  • Partnership improvements: Better resolution of multiple devices with the same name syncing with the same desktop
  • Connectivity improvements: Better handling of VPN clients (resolve unbinding of protocols from our RNDIS adapter). New auto detection of connectivity failure with user diagnostic alerts
  • New troubleshooting utility
4.5.5096 2007-02-13
  • Faster file transfer speed and photo sync via Outlook are only available for Windows Mobile 5.0 powered devices.
  • Users of Microsoft Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 with devices running the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 will benefit from the following feature enhancements included in ActiveSync 4.5: Direct Push Technology, local device wipe, and certificate powered authentication to Microsoft Exchange.
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2000 not supported
  • Conversion of database files for use on a mobile device is not supported
  • Conversion of font files for use on a mobile device is not supported by ActiveSync 4.5


See also

External links

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