Are you aware of the Add/Remove Programs menu option within ActiveSync? When you have a PDA connected to your desktop PC you can use the dialog to install new applications onto your PDA as well as uninstall existing software.
For example when you install the .NET Compact Framework 3.5 Redistributable on your desktop PC it will register the .NET CF 3.5 CAB files with ActiveSync. This means you can install the .NET CF 3.5 on as many PDAs as you require by using the Add/Remove Programs dialog. You don’t need to re-install the redistributable package for each newly connected PDA.
Adding your own application to ActiveSync’s list
With a little bit of additional effort it is possible for application developers to register their own application CAB file(s) with ActiveSync so that they are installable via the Add/Remove Programs dialog. This provides an easy way for non technical users to install your application as they do not need to be able to manually copy a file to the PDA or select it within File Explorer. You can even get this to occur automatically when your desktop setup application runs.
The following resources will help you implement this feature:
- Mobile Installations from the Desktop ala CeAppMgr – a blog posting by Reed Robison.
- Deploying .NET Compact Framework 2.0 Applications with .cab and .msi Files – an article by Chris Tacke available on MSDN.