Development of next generation mobile devices could be hampered unless a significant effort is made to improve battery life in these devices.
This is the claim of analysts at the Gartner Group, speaking at the company's conference today.
While today's mobile phone batteries last anything up to three days, they warned that new devices with colour screens and multimedia functionality will place much heavier demand on batteries, leaving them with just a few hours of life.
"We'll see battery life coming back as an issue. It is a factor. There'll need to be some significant work in the power supply area if they're going to deliver," said Gartner analyst Peter Richardson.
Richardson said that, for example, a Windows CE device with a colour screen has a significantly shorter battery life than devices with mono screens, and even less than current mobile handsets' long life lithium ion batteries.
Microsoft said it accepts this fact, but says users are demanding more advanced - and as a consequence - more power hungry applications.
"The challenge any manufacturer has is getting the balance between delivering the right amount of functionality, but making sure you make the best use of battery life," said Dilip Mistry, Windows CE marketing manager at Microsoft UK.
Microsoft has set 8.5 hours as the minimum battery life for Windows CE devices, well short of three days but enough to last through the working day, according to Mistry.
"It's a trade-off, but the big question is, do people want that functionality? The constant feedback is yes," said Mistry.
"We want to deliver products whose battery life is comparable to the phones available today."
One of Microsoft's problems is that it went straight into the handheld market with a colour device, while rivals 3Com and Psion still deal only in mono. Both vendors are planning colour devices and users will see how they deal with the battery life issue.
Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates last month showed off the 'Stinger', Microsoft's prototype smartphone running Windows CE. Microsoft says this type of high-end phone will account for around 15 per cent of phones running its software, while the majority will be low-end phones running microbrowser technology acquired from UK startup STNC.
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