Win CE 2.0 to launch November

New tools for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system, combined with additional third-party application and processor support, could push the mobile platform into new classes of devices.

The Redmond, Wash., company is expected to release into beta within the next few weeks an OEM Adaptation Kit and Software Developers Kit for the forthcoming Windows CE Version 2.0 that includes support for Visual Basic Scripting, ActiveX and Java.

The kits will offer support for the first time for LANs, X86 processors and color displays, among other features, according to sources close to Microsoft.

Version 2.0 is expected to be previewed in September and officially launched at Comdex in November, sources said. Microsoft officials declined to comment on unannounced products.

In addition, Microsoft will make Version 2.0 modular, enabling developers to license only portions of the operating system. The move is advantageous to manufacturers of non-PC devices, whose products don't necessarily require the full-blown operating system.

These moves are part of an effort by Microsoft to actively engage hardware OEMs and ISVs to buildapplications and new devices that run on Windows CE.

"The key will be Visual Basic support. Right now, Visual C++ is kind of clumsy," said one Windows CE developer who requested anonymity. "This will encourage a lot more developers to join the program. That, as well as Microsoft accommodating tier pricing, would be a crucial milestone."

Microcom Inc. next week will introduce its Pocket Carbon Copy communications software for Windows CE 1.1, which lets mobile users access and control a desktop or notebook PC from a Windows CE-based handheld PC, said Microcom officials in Norwood, Mass.

Pocket Carbon Copy's navigational tools include a CursorTrack feature for following the cursor throughout the screen and a Zoom feature that shrinks a desktop PC screen to the viewing area of a handheld PC. Pocket Carbon Copy includes a "chat" feature for exchanging text messages and support for TCP/IP, modem and serial connections. The communications software sports a Jump to Start feature that brings users to the start menu on the remote PC, as well as a Disable Menu Bar option for removing the menu bar and maximizing screen space.

Pocket Carbon Copy will be priced at $49 for a handheld PC-only version and $89.95 for a version that runs on both handheld PCs and desktop PCs.