PocketPC makes switch to StrongArm

Microsoft software running on an Intel platform - sound familiar?

Pocket PC 2002 made its debut on Thursday, and with it a new hardware lineup based for the first time entirely on Intel processors.

Microsoft said last month that its new handheld operating system would only support Intel's StrongARM SA-1110 processors, which were already used by Compaq's popular iPaq line. Hewlett-Packard and Symbol made the move to StrongARM earlier, but with Thursday's debut Casio Computer, NEC and Toshiba were also forced to switch to StrongARM, ditching MIPS Technologies and Hitachi.

The move makes things simpler for software developers, creating a consistent hardware platform, but entailed a hardware shift for several manufacturers, and means that older machines are now obsolete.

It is also good news for Intel and Cambridge-based ARM Holdings, whose chip designs are already practically a standard in the mobile phone world. Palm Computing also plans to port its operating system to the StrongARM and other ARM-based chips with its next OS upgrade, next year.

Intel is also targeting StrongARM at other portable devices, like next-generation mobile phones, which require powerful processors.

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