Compaq plans to team with content providers and use wireless networks to broadcast information, like flight details and stock prices, to users of its Windows CE devices.
The news came as Compaq launched its latest incarnation of the Aero - a mini laptop device running Windows CE, to add to the palm PC and handheld PC versions - here at Microsoft's Windows CE Developers Conference in Denver, Colorado.
Compaq is in negotiations with several content providers about providing streaming content for CE devices, as well as developing its own Alta Vista portal for mobile computing users.
Discussions are also underway with many of Europe's mobile phone operators that use Compaq infrastructure about providing services for Windows CE users.
"There are quite a few things coming up," said Gernot Radl, business development manager for Compaq's handheld products in the Emea region. "Eight out of 10 of the biggest GSM providers across Europe are using Compaq infrastructure to run their networks. We can make sure they have the right links with content providers."
But Compaq isn't going to rush out sophisticated mobile data services until the networks can support them, said Radl.
"It will be a slow evolution of this kind of service. It is important not to put too many things in place at once. It doesn't make any sense to try running video streams over GSM," he said.
Compaq's strategy echoes the recent moves of Hewlett-Packard, which has made a number of partnership announcements with content and service providers.
Microsoft today reported a swell in demand for Windows CE devices in Europe, but Compaq says it is not focussed on shipping large numbers of its new Aero 8000 device. Instead, it wants to provide services, including information, to corporate customers who use the devices as part of a bigger corporate wide computing strategy.
"We're not in the business of shifting boxes at the moment, but shifting solutions," said Radl.
Compaq's Aero 8000 weighs 2.9 pounds, has a 10 inch SVGA screen and up to 13 hours battery life. It also includes a smart card port for authentication, encryption and ecommerce - for example charging up a phone card via the Internet.
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