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IBM dumps Windows CE

Yet another company dumps Win CE. This time the Big Blue undermines Microsoft's message about the mini OS

According to an IBM source, Big Blue is the latest manufacturer to dump Microsoft's Windows CE operating system.

The company has discontinued its z50 sub-notebook, the first in its WorkPad line to be based on Windows CE. The rest of the company's WorkPad range is based on the Palm OS.

The sub-$1000 device, which only shipped last May, was a US only product.

Although Windows CE is still finding success in the corporate arena, PDA manufacturers have been deserting the OS in droves. The end of last year saw Philips jettisoning its Nino handheld range, shortly preceded by LG Electronics' decision to abandon its Phenom CE device.

An IBM spokesman confirmed that the device had been discontinued in February and says, "we are being completely open about this," despite the fact that there has been no official announcement.

The spokesman refused to give details as to why Windows CE was abandoned in favour of Palm OS for its PC companion product line, citing only customer dissatisfaction. "We haven't ruled out Window CE, but we have an existing product [based on Palm OS] that sells well," he says. "We were not hearing much demand for the CE device and we're refocusing our efforts on products that best fit the needs of our partners."

Reeling from the battering its stripped down version of Windows has been getting from Palm recently, Microsoft is currently pinning its hopes on Pocket PC its latest handheld operating system technology, due to ship next month. It features a new user interface and a wider range of applications, which will be showcased in devices from Hewlett-Packard, Compaq and Casio.

Windows CE product manager, Dilip Mistry, admits that "there has been some confusion" over CE's position in the handheld space, but says that "we're happy with the progress we've made with Pocket PC and I believe that its time has come."

Although unable to comment on IBM, Mistry denied that the recent drain of manufacturers developing CE devices was indictment of the operating system. He pointed out that there are over 350 different products with embedded CE and that while vendors such as Phillips had jumped ship, since then it had welcomed the likes of Hitachi and Symbol onboard.

"This is the kind of shake out you get in this business," he says, "All this talk of CE being on a slippery slope is complete rubbish, I believe the opposite is true."