IBM lifted the lid on a host of weird and wonderful PC technologies last week, including a Windows-like operating system called MicroPM which sits on top of an embedded version of IBM PC DOS 7.0 and offers the OS/2 GUI look and feel. It uses a subset of the OS/2 API (Application Programming Interface) so that applications developed for MicroPM can run on a full OS/2 operating system.
Although similar in look and functionality to Windows CE, IBM stressed the operating system is aimed at vertical application areas, rather than consumer devices (as is the case with Windows CE).
Louis Davis, advisory programmer at IBM's embedded systems development division in the US, said: "It's very good for vertical markets because OS/2 runs in protected mode, is multi-threaded and extremely stable."
IBM is licensing the operating system to OEMs where it is used in hand-held computers.
All the technologies on show last week were developed at IBM Japan - a country with a knack for making hardware shrink.
Other products on show last week included a palmtop PC, measuring just 12.5cm by 17.5cm by 2.5 cm. Called the PC110, it runs the MicroPM operating system and includes a 256-colour 640 by 480 VGA screen, a full "QWERTY" keyboard, speaker, microphone and trackpoint pointing device. Although developed solely for Japan, IBM may consider other markets.
IBM also gave a preview of embedded software running on Kyocera's DataScope cellular phone. The phone, measures 10cm x 3.8cm x 1.9cm and offers a full length LCD display and an Internet Email reader. It can be slotted into a PCMCIA slot and used as a wireless modem on a notebook.
IBM also unveiled a small-footprint graphical Web browser for DOS, called WebBoy, which could potentially be used to give legacy PCs access to the Web. The browser will run on a standard 386 PC with 4Mb of RAM.
IBM said WebBoy achieves a similar result to Sun's JavaPC, although it is not able to run Java applications. IBM has developed a Java-enabled version of the browser, codenamed NetDiver, which it says is almost ready for shipping to OEMs.
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