Citrix links PDAs to apps wirelessly

Citrix Systems Inc. is showcasing at CeBIT its Independent Computing Architecture (ICA) client software that can be used to link mobile workers wirelessly from handheld devices to data stored on central computers.

Citrix officials at a news conference on the Hanover fairgrounds Friday used the software loaded on a Windows CE-based Compaq iPaq handheld PC to connect via a wireless local area network to a server in Munich. Using the software, it was possible to access the server-based calendar, e-mail, attachments and other applications.

On the server side Citrix runs Windows NT for Terminal Server and MetaFrame XP for Windows, the latest version of which was introduced in February.

Handheld devices such as the iPac are a natural fit with the thin-client strategy Citrix has long championed. It reduces software licensing costs by keeping the applications on servers and it lowers the risk of company data being lost because, unlike with laptops, data never leaves the confines of the company. The newest version of MetaFrame XP for Windows, is designed to support as many as 100,000 of these devices on 1,000 or more servers.

The news conference demo, however, revealed that not all users might be comfortable with accessing data this way. The iPac’s screen, which is similar in size to most PDAs, is not large enough to display the entire graphical interface, requiring the user to scroll up and down and from side to side. The connection also wasn’t stable, but that was attributed to the high volume of cell phones in use at the trade show.

Citrix has not yet announced when it will release a version of ICA compatible with Palm Inc.’s proprietary Palm OS.

Citrix also demonstrated the ICA client for the Symbian platform at the Nokia Corp. stand where it is running as a prototype on a Nokia 9210 Communicator, a combined phone and PDA in a clamshell format, using Symbian and the latest version of the Citrix MetaFrame XP. Citrix also announced a licensing agreement to incorporate the ICA client for the Symbian platform into L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. products The arrangement will allow Ericsson to provide users of the 1/4 VGA handheld devices with access to applications running on MetaFrame servers over wireless connections.

Citrix Systems, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., can be reached at