Microsoft bulks up apps and color for Pocket PC

Microsoft bulks up apps and color for Pocket PC

By Mark A. Kellner

Special to GCN

MARCH 13—A new Microsoft Windows CE implementation called Pocket PC, set for launch within three months, will have a better Microsoft Outlook inbox plus revised, lightweight versions of Microsoft Word and Excel.

Phil Holden, a Microsoft group product manager, said the Pocket PC versions of the leading office applications will have a far greater reach than organizers and personal digital assistants can deliver. He said the software will power handheld devices to be announced by Casio Inc. of Dover, N.J., Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett Packard Co.

Acknowledging that Microsoft has an uphill job converting the users of market-leading handhelds from Palm Computing Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., Holden told GCN that the Pocket PC will outperform the just-released color Palm IIIc [GCN, Feb. 21, Page 1]. He said the Palm IIIc draws 1.2 watts of power, much more than the Pocket PC prototypes he has seen. Casio claims 25-hour battery operation for its color device and 80 hours for the monochrome version, Holden said.

Also, some of the color handhelds will have reflective screens that are easy to read in direct sunlight—a challenge for the Palm IIIc.

A Pocket PC will do a better job of importing data from Microsoft Outlook than the Palm conduits now available, Holden said. Among the most frequent downloads of third-party software for the Palm platform are apps for viewing Word and Excel documents. By including their functions in the Pocket PC, Microsoft hopes to extend the enterprise reach of its Office suite.

The more robust Outlook Inbox in the new platform will support a range of file attachments including .BMP, .DOC, .GIF, Hypertext Markup Language, .INK, .JPG, Rich Text Format, .TXT, .WAV and .XLS. The inbox will work with the Internet Messaging Access Protocol 4, the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and the Post Office Protocol 3 for compatibility with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes messages.

Holden demonstrated a version of Internet Explorer for Web browsing with full, interactive graphics. The Palm OS' Web clipping function is text-only.

Pocket PCs will have built-in password security. Holden said several federal agencies have shown active interest in the devices, but he declined to name them.

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