Handheld devices find new turf at conference

Handheld devices find new turf at conference

By Mark A. Kellner

Special to GCN

PASADENA, Calif.'Microsoft Corp., whose Windows CE handheld computer operating system has been eclipsed by the Palm OS from Palm Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., is revising its Handheld PC 2000 platform.

The software giant also is preparing to woo Palm users to its nascent Pocket PC OS. The company announced the moves recently at the Demo Mobile conference, which featured several applications and services keyed to Palm OS or device-independent handheld products.

Phil Holden, director of product marketing for mobile devices, said Handheld PC 2000 software will include pocket-sized versions of Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. So far PowerPoint has not been available on Pocket PC systems.

Time to launch

Microsoft also is launching an Internet Explorer 4.0-compatible browser that supports Hypertext Markup Language 4.0, Dynamic HTML, Extensible Markup Language, Extensible Style Sheet Language, JavaScript development software, GIF animations, frames, cookies, Secure Sockets Layer and certificates.

Also new in the Handheld PC software platform is an integrated client for Windows 2000 Terminal Services that gives users access to their full-function desktop applications over wired and wireless connections. Holden said wireless access has attracted interest among government users.

The only hardware maker to announce a device that uses the new Handheld PC software was Hewlett-Packard Co., which showed off its $999 HP Jornada 720 Handheld PC with a color VGA display. It had the same keyboard as the HP Jornada 690 but a faster 206-MHz StrongARM processor, a 51-MHz memory data bus and 2-D graphics acceleration.

The Jornada 720 is larger than a Pocket PC and smaller than devices such as the Clio handheld from MainStreet Networks Client Devices Group of San Jose, Calif.

Holden said Microsoft will team up with wireless phone makers on a smart phone based on Handheld PC software due sometime next year.

He gave no details on price or configuration, other than to say such a device could hold a contact list of 1,100 phone numbers.

Microsoft will also offer a Palm Switcher Kit for users who want to migrate from the Palm OS platform.

The idea is to let users continue to work with Palm Desktop as well as move to other applications.

Taking aim

Also on display at Demo Mobile was a prototype megapixel camera that attaches to a wireless phone for image transmission. Developed by LightSurf Technologies Inc. of Santa Cruz, Calif., the camera was presented by industry veteran Philippe Kahn, who snapped a picture with the small digital camera and transmitted the image wirelessly to a Web site.

Kahn said the phone-camera combo would sell for around $500 next year. He said it would be useful for federal disaster workers, insurance adjusters, inspectors and others who need to transmit visual information quickly.

Silicon Valley startup ecrio Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., demonstrated its ecrio Rich Instant Messaging Platform software that lets users exchange free-form handwritten notes, images, drawings, animation, voice, video and text with Internet-enabled wireless or desktop devices.

Described as client-agnostic, the ecrio software ran on several Palm OS devices. Company representatives said it also works with Pocket PC and Symbian Ltd. Epoc operating systems.


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