In one of my earlier articles on the O'Reilly Network, I talked about the joy of sending SMS messages using my Mac OS X computer together with a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone. Now Windows XP users need not envy Mac users anymore! Microsoft has recently released the free SMS Sender to let cell phone users send SMS messages from the comfort of their Windows XP computer.
Best of all, it works with GSM cell phones that come with either Infrared or Bluetooth capability (which most phones in today's market support).
In this article, I will show you the various features of the SMS Sender and how to use it on your notebook and desktop computers.
You can download the free SMS Sender from Microsoft. And you should have a GSM cell phone that has one of the following connectivity options:
For my example, I will illustrate using the Nokia 6610 (supports Infrared) and the Sony Ericsson T68i (supports both Bluetooth and Infrared).
Notebook computer users should find this option very useful, as most notebooks today have built-in infrared ports.
Turn on your infrared connectivity on your cell phone and place the infrared port pointing toward your notebook computer's infrared port. You should see an infrared icon appearing on the Tray (see Figure 1).
|Figure 1. Infrared enabled on Windows XP.|
Next, launch SMS Sender and select the infrared connection "Standard Modem over IR link" (see Figure 2).
|Figure 2. Sending SMS messages over an IR link.|
Enter the destination phone number and the message that you want to send. Click on the Send button when you are done. The SMS Sender supports the following number format:
If you do not have access to an infrared port (most desktop computers don't), the next best thing to do would be to get a Bluetooth adapter such as the Belkin F8T001 Bluetooth adapter (see Figure 3). Of course, you would need a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone as well.
|Figure 3. The Belkin F8T001 Bluetooth USB adapter.|
Before you can send SMS using your Bluetooth connection, you need to pair it up with your computer. After that, you just select the "Bluetooth Modem" (under Available Devices) and send the message as mentioned in the last section.
For those users who want to send messages other than in English, you can use the SMS Sender to send in International Characters (UCS-2) encoding mode (the default mode is GSM Standard encoding). You can send messages using languages such as Arabic, Chinese, and Central European. Click on the Options... button on SMS Sender to display the Options window (see Figure 4). If you are sending multi-language messages, it is good to select Autodetect in the encoding checkbox. You can also perform logging to keep track of the SMS messages sent.
|Figure 4. Changing the options for SMS Sender.|
In my article on OnDotNet.com (see Globalizing and Localizing Windows Applications, Part 2), I showed how to configure your Windows XP computer to accept Chinese inputs. In this case, you can use Windows XP's support for Asian languages to send SMS messages in Chinese (see Figure 5).
|Figure 5. Sending Chinese SMS messages.|
Another nice feature of the SMS Sender is the ability to import the phone book from your cell phone. To import the phonebook, click on the Phonebook... icon.
|Figure 6. Importing the phonebook from the cell phone (names have been removed to protect the innocent).|
Note that after you have imported the phonebook you can edit (as well as add) the entries in the phonebook (see Figure 6). However, changes will not be propagated back to the phone. If you change the number of a contact, the next time you do an import again it will result in a duplicate entry in the SMS Sender phonebook. Hence, this is one area that I hope the next version (if any) will resolve. In any case, updating the phonebook directly on your cell phone would the best way to ensure that you have an updated phone listing.
Another feature that was documented but I had difficulty in getting it to work is the ability to invoke the SMS Sender via the command line.
You can send a SMS message ("Hello") to another person (phone number 91234567) with the following options:
C:\>Program Files\Microsoft SMS Sender>smssender.exe /p:91234567 /m:"Hello!"
Here is the format for the smssender.exe:
smssender.exe [[/i] /p:<phone> /m:"<message>" [/u] [/l]] [/?] /i Phone number is expressed in the international format. /p:<phone> Phone number (numerical values only). /m:"<message>" Typed message within quotation marks. /u Message encoded as UCS-2. By default GSM alphabet is used. /l Log the sent message. /? Displays this help.
The smssender.exe will use the last device that was successfully used to send messages in the Windows version of SMS Sender. But I tried it many times, and smssender.exe always complains that no last device was used.
This feature provides great opportunities for you to write a batch file to automate the sending of SMS messages to a group of people. Unfortunately I can't get it to work.
Overall, I find the SMS Sender a useful utility for my Windows XP notebook. This is especially useful for cases where I had to send long SMS messages (though the SMS Sender only supports a maximum of 160 characters) as well as messages in Chinese.
However, unlike the SMS support in Mac OS X, SMS Sender cannot retrieve and display messages from your cell phone. But this is not a major concern as the usefulness of SMS Sender lies in its ability to send messages using your computer keyboard, and not having to risk injuring your hand due to fiddling with the miniature keypad.
Wei-Meng Lee (Microsoft MVP) http://weimenglee.blogspot.com is a technologist and founder of Developer Learning Solutions http://www.developerlearningsolutions.com, a technology company specializing in hands-on training on the latest Microsoft technologies.
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