Microsoft last week gave the first European demonstration of a product using the company's Palm PC specification. Mobile devices group product manager at Microsoft US, Roger Gulrajani, said the pen, microphone and speaker on the device will allow the development of rich user interface. By synchronising contacts and calendar, adding desktop compatibility and off-line Web browsing software, devices built to the spec will expand the information resource people can carry in their pockets, Gulrajani claimed. "This is more than just a reference device: we are trying to push the envelope a little bit," he said. Microsoft representatives added that the development of CE for entertainment, embedded devices and companion PCs will boost industry growth in application development. Kathryn Hinsch, senior director of Windows CE marketing, claimed the development of CE will allow people to have personal and business information where ever they go, as well as providing a platform for integrated devices in telephones, TVs, kiosks and restaurant tills. Andrew Terry, technical director of Advance Systems, which develops connectivity software for CE, said the market was gradually coming to recognise the corporate potential of the platform. "Initially the focus on handheld and palm PCs was a bit gadgetty," he explained. "Now, a lot of businesses want to use small machines to get computers to people not already using them. We are currently looking at markets in sales forces, healthcare and market research. With devices in cars as well, there is a lot of room for application development." Devices based on the Palm PC are expected to ship in the UK in the second quarter of this year. Produced by vendors such as Casio, Philips, Everex and Samsung, products will take AA or AAA batteries provided an estimated life of up to four weeks. Prices are expected to range from $299 (#181) to $499 (#302).
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