In an important win for Microsoft, Hitachi has agreed to develop a range of new products based on the Windows CE cutdown operating system.
Hitachi, which manufactures the SH processor that powers many CE devices, will create a special organisation to develop new CE products. These will include 'PC companion' devices such as handheld computers and larger, subnotebook models.
Hitachi will also develop a 'home multimedia station', a set-top device that will integrate data from various sources including television, digital video disk, digital cameras and the Internet. It is expected to be launched later this year.
The Japanese giant will contribute technology to Windows CE that will help Microsoft improve its real time performance, both companies claimed. The real time world is a key target market for CE but is currently dominated by more specialised OSs.
Earlier this year Microsoft announced its intention to move Windows CE into the market for industrial control systems, and said it would work on real time performance.
In recent months, Microsoft has signed some major deals that take CE far beyond the handheld PC market where it originated. In May, Sega announced that its next generation game console, the Dreamcast, will run a customised version of CE. And in April, Sony and Microsoft agreed to collaborate on future CE based consumer electronics devices.
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