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This article answers some general questions about Microsoft Windows CE.
Q. What is Windows CE?
A. Microsoft Windows CE is an open, scalable Windows platform for a broad range of communications, entertainment and mobile-computing devices. The standards-based Windows CE platform is an entirely new operating system built from the ground up to make possible new categories of business and consumer non-PC devices that can communicate with each other, share information with Windows-based PCs, and connect to the Internet.
Q. Why did Microsoft develop Windows CE?
A. For the past few years, Microsoft has outlined its vision of 'Information At Your Fingertips,' in which the idea of a personal computer on every desk and in every home evolved into one of computer-based devices in a variety of business and consumer environments. The Windows CE operating system is the result of a multiyear development effort to fulfill that vision. With Windows CE, Microsoft is providing an open, standards-based platform that will significantly lower the hurdles for OEMs, hardware manufacturers, software developers, and, ultimately, customers to adopt new non-PC technologies and solutions.
Q. What new products is Microsoft planning, or does Microsoft envision, based on Windows CE?
A. The first products based on Windows CE will be a new category of mobile companion devices for Windows-based PCs called handheld PCs, or H/PCs. H/PCs are designed to provide the millions of mobile professionals using Windows-based personal computers an affordable, easy-to-use, PC companion to carry their most important information when they are away from their PC. Additional categories of devices that Windows CE would be suitable for include other small form- factor mobile-computing devices such as "wallet" PCs, wireless communications devices such as digital information pagers and cellular smart phones, next-generation multimedia and entertainment consoles including DVD players, and purpose-built Internet access devices such as Internet TVs, digital set-top boxes and Internet "Web phones."
Q. When will products based on Windows CE become available?
A. Microsoft expects to announce the availability of H/PC devices, third-party software applications and H/PC peripherals at this year's COMDEX show in Las Vegas. Microsoft will continue to work with many of its existing partners and will be forming new relationships to extend the benefits of the Windows CE platform across additional product categories.
Q. What are your plans for Windows CE and the Internet?
A. Our strategy is to build Internet access into the Windows platform, whether it is the Windows NT, Windows 95/98, or Windows CE operating system. Windows CE includes a version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, offering built-in Web access for new and existing categories of non-PC business and consumer devices.
Q. What are the components of Windows CE?
A. The Windows CE operating system is a 32-bit, multitasking, multithreaded operating system that has an open architecture design that enables a variety of devices. Windows CE is compact, providing high performance in low memory conditions and is scalable, allowing for a range of embedded, mobile or multimedia product lines. Windows CE also has the advantage of being portable, providing choice in microprocessors and has integrated power management, enabling long battery life on mobile devices. Standard communications support is built into Windows CE, enabling access to the Internet to send and receive e-mail or browse the World Wide Web. In addition, a graphical user interface, incorporating many elements of the familiar Windows user interface, will be available on certain devices, facilitating ease of use for the end user.
Q. How is Microsoft's strategy for Windows CE different from the non- PC strategies of other software developers?
A. Microsoft's strategy for Windows CE is to provide an open, standards-based platform that will enable OEMs, hardware manufacturers, and software developers to develop new categories of communications, entertainment and mobile-computing products that can "talk" to each other and share information with Windows- based PCs - in addition to providing access to the Internet.
Q. Will customers be able to acquire Windows CE?
A. Windows CE will be a licensed platform for OEMs similar to Windows 95/98 and Windows NT. Microsoft has no plans to offer Windows CE through retail channels.
Q. What is the H/PC?
A. H/PCs, or handheld PCs, are a new category of mobile companion devices for Windows-based PCs based on Microsoft's Windows CE platform. H/PCs have been designed to provide the millions of mobile professionals using Windows-based personal computers an affordable, easy-to-use, mobile handheld PC companion to carry their most important data when they are away from their personal computer.
Q. Why did Microsoft decide to enter into this new product category?
A. Microsoft has conducted extensive customer research indicating that there is a significant market of millions of mobile professionals using Windows-based PCs who are looking for an affordable, convenient and easy-to-use PC "companion" to carry their most important information when they are away from their personal computers. These customers want an easy way to "sync up" information when returning to their desks, and they want a system with nothing new to learn - one that complements their existing applications for Windows and works with their personal information management (PIM) software. Microsoft believes a great opportunity exists to provide these customers an easy-to-use, full-featured mobile PC companion that builds on their knowledge of Windows.
Q. What are H/PCs' main features and benefits?
A. H/PCs have been designed to provide the millions of mobile professionals using personal computers running Windows an affordable, easy-to-use mobile PC companion to carry their most important information when they are away from their personal computer. H/PCs running Microsoft Windows CE provide an easy-to- learn user interface incorporating many elements of the familiar Windows user interface, come equipped with companion applications that work with the PIM and productivity applications customers know and use every day, and provide seamless information synchronization with Windows-based PCs. Standard communications support is also built into Windows CE, enabling users to access the Internet to send and receive e-mail or browse the World Wide Web. Moreover, Windows CE provides a standard development environment that ensures the emergence of a strong aftermarket for H/PC companion applications.
Q. What do H/PCs look like? How big are they? What do they weigh?
A. H/PCs are designed to be "pocketable," easily accessible mobile devices the user feels comfortable taking everywhere. Although OEMs are responsible for the design of their individual products, all H/PCs will have certain characteristics, including a "clamshell" design, an LCD screen and a standard keyboard. Most H/PCs will weigh-in under one pound.
Q. How is the H/PC different from a laptop or a notebook computer?
A. The H/PC is a mobile PC companion and is designed to complement, note replace, desktop, laptop and notebook computers. Companion applications developed for the H/PC are not intended to replace the functionality of personal computer applications but instead are intended to extend and augment those desktop applications.
Q. How is the H/PC different from a PDA?
A. The H/PC is not a PDA, but rather an affordable handheld PC companion. The H/PC concept was developed through extensive customer research that concluded that a device to extend the capabilities of a PC user when away from their desk was extremely valuable. PDAs can generally be classified as stand-alone, keyboardless devices with proprietary user interfaces and applications that require pen-based entry and navigation. Typically, PDAs have been expensive, with price points close to, or in excess of, $1,000. For the most part, these devices have been unaffordable, too big and too heavy, and haven't featured simple companionship with desktop or notebook PCs necessary to convince a substantial number of mobile professionals to adopt them. Early indications are that the H/PC concept will be successful at meeting the needs and solving real customer problems.
Q. How is the H/PC different from an electronic organizer?
A. H/PCs come equipped with much more than just personal information management software. In addition to the Microsoft Windows CE operating system, H/PCs come with companion productivity applications, an e-mail client and an Internet browser. Standard communications support is also built in to Windows CE, enabling H/PCs to access the Internet for sending and receiving e-mail or browsing the World Wide Web.
Q. What is Microsoft's contribution to the H/PC?
A. Microsoft produces the Windows CE operating system and a suite of standard applications, all of which will run on hardware designed and produced by OEMs. Microsoft also brings its proven ability to create viable product platforms and then enable third parties to build products around them.
Q. Who will manufacture H/PC products?
A. The following leading computer and consumer electronics OEMs have announced their commitment to developing and manufacturing H/PCs: Casio Computer Co., Hewlett-Packard Co., LG Electronics, NEC Corp. and Philips Electronics.
Q. When will H/PC products be available?
A. Microsoft expects to announce the availability of H/PC devices, third-party software applications, and H/PC peripherals at this year's COMDEX show in Las Vegas.
Q. What companion applications will come with the H/PC?
A. H/PCs will come with a standard suite of applications from Microsoft, including a personal information manager, an e-mail client, and productivity companion applications. H/PCs also will come equipped with a version of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Moreover, Windows CE provides a standard development environment that ensures a strong aftermarket will develop for additional H/PC applications, including companions to popular desktop applications as well as applications in vertical markets that specifically address certain mobile user segments.
Q: What support is offered for Microsoft Pocket Excel and Microsoft Pocket Word?
A: The hardware vendor provides support for all Windows CE applications and the H/PC hardware. Microsoft offers paid support for Pocket Excel and Pocket Word on a callback basis.