Microsoft's Windows CE operating system could soon be the front-end to your bank, thanks to a deal the software company signed last week with Siemens Nixdorf. Under the agreement, Siemens Nixdorf will develop embedded PC devices using the handheld operating system. The company is likely to replace its existing systems in bank ATMs and cash tills with software based on the platform. Peter Page, Siemens Nixdorf's chief technology officer, said he believes embedded devices will provide market growth for PCs into the next century. "For the world of tomorrow, the number of PCs in use will grow by an order of magnitude, but they will not look like PCs - they will be embedded in other technology. We see Window CE as the basis to build these kind of devices," he declared. Page said that he imagined embedded PCs in telephones, cars, houses and TVs, in addition to those that already exist in cash tills and bank machines. Siemens has promised that software distribution and administration on such devices could take place across a network, and help desk support could be provided while the user is on-line. Analysts agreed that CE is apt for development in embedded devices. "We have been waiting for CE to be developed in devices of this kind. Microsoft has got its eye on the embedded PC and car PC markets," commented Inteco consultant Mike Welch. Siemens Nixdorf also announced it will produce a new type of PC/TV, dubbed the MultiMedia Integration box. Hans Breidler, vice president of corporate systems strategy for Siemens, said that the development of Windows CE for PC/TV would allow prices to dip bellow $500 (#305), enabling the company to compete in the consumer markets, as well as targeting the system at large companies and hotel chains. However, Welch said price was not the obstacle to the success of the PC/TV. "About 23% of people already have a PC, most of whom use them at work. Persuading the remainder to be interested in home PCs is about getting them to recognise the benefits of accessing information services," he explained. "PC/TV that is just a Web browser plugged into the TV, is really the worst of both worlds."
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