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Enable CAB Downloads from Windows Mobile Devices PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Christopher Price   
Friday, 09 June 2006
Downloading applications over-the-air (that's wirelessly for those of you in Overland Park) on Windows Mobile has never been an easy process. I don't understand why, but developers (including Microsoft) haven't ever made it easy. While the Palm world has been content with PRC's for years... for some reason... Microsoft and its developers have been apprehensive.

And the weird thing is, it's easier to deploy OTA than it is on the desktop. When you deploy on the desktop, you're wrapping the OTA file (a CAB file) in an installer, which passes the CAB to ActiveSync and ActiveSync then passes the CAB to the device. The device takes it from there.

I don't know why any WM developer would pass up on having a CAB option. Yet, even the ones that do, often find a way to screw it up. The primary one is not setting up their web servers properly. See, Palm devices usually sense when a file is formatted with .PRC at the end and realize "hey, this is a download... I should do something with it".

Windows Mobile, unfortunately, has yet to learn the wonders of the .cab extension. So, you have to hold your web server's hand to format the MIME type to kick IE Mobile into realizing that the download is something that isn't just plain-old-text.

To do this, you need to add the MIME type to the server, identifying CABs as application/octet-stream format. In Apache, this is as such...

AddType application/octet-stream .cab

Now, developers, go forth! Offer your evil setup.exe or files alongside a CAB, and make sure it actually works by doing the steps above!
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