First published 11 March, 1997
Microsoft's Windows CE will sort out the palmtop kings from the paupers, Hewlett-Packard (HP) claimed today. The cut-down operating system for handheld devices is expected to be at the nub of the next generation of palmtops, and HP is already ahead of the game, the firm said. HP is expected to announce two flavours of Windows-based CE palmtops in the near future, but said it will not be giving them a high priority at the CeBit trade show in Hannover, Germany, starting this Thursday.
"Competitors are having trouble with power management and temperature [on CE devices], and several are new to palmtop design," said Sharon Colman, HP's business unit manager for Europe. "[But] we do credit Psion; it's doing a very good job of building a contact device people can use at work and home."
Colman said Windows CE will drive palmtop sales: "[With our CE-based device] we are targeting mobile professionals who are already using Windows 95. A benefit of CE is it has the GUI customers are used to. In the past people have looked at palmtops and gone 'aargh!'. That happened to [Apple] Newtons. But we're not looking at Windows CE to get us into the palmtop market. HP's been in palmtops for a long time."
Separately, Colman predicted phones and palmtops will merge into one unit: "Some of the developments going on are in phones gaining more capability, so they receive faxes and data. I think palmtops are going to have the same capabilities built in. Voice recognition, dictaphones and colour - these are the things [HP is looking at] for palmtops."