Promoting mobile PCs to corporate buyers is a priority for both Intel and Microsoft this month, with Intel unveiling its Mobile Power Management Initiative (MPMI) and Microsoft set to detail version 2.0 of the Windows CE handheld operating system.
The MPMI consists of a set of good practice guidelines and technologies for enabling mobile computers to offer desktop performance without coming up against the usual barriers of overheating and short battery life.
However, some of the guidelines effectively disable features of the Windows 95 operating system, enough to cripple the environment mobile users are accustomed to, according to some observers.
Guidelines include turning off the autosave function and application wizards, and performing back-ups and disk defragmentation manually, to save battery life. Intel also advises users to run spellcheckers and spreadsheet recalculations only as needed, rather than automatically, to ease the load on the CPU, and to choose plain screen savers and wallpaper.
But attendees at the launch said it was unrealistic to ask mobile users, especially as these are often not computer experts, to do without functions such as wizards. "It is hard for IT managers to dictate computer usage behaviour so strictly, especially to users on the road," said one IT manager.
Many claimed Intel's recommendations just took away many of the tools that Windows 95 now offered and that the real issue lies in developing new hardware technologies to reduce heat and prolong battery life.
This week, Microsoft will make its own mobile challenge when it offers attendees at its Proefessional Developers' Conference in San Diego, California a preview of CE 2.0. The first products running the operating system are expected at the Comdex trade show in November, from manufacturers such as Sharp. There will also be an even more minimalist version, codenamed Gryphon and targeted at consumer devices, in competition with Java. Appliances running this OS will start to appear at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago.
But Microsoft's main thrust is at the corporates. Many of the new features of release 2.0 are aimed at making enterprise IT managers take CE devices seriously. These include support for Ethernet via the Network Driver Interface Specification (NDIS), which is incorporated in the OS.
Sources at Microsoft said the company had chosen to build NDIS into the OS rather than add Ethernet connectivity via a PC Card add-on to reduce costs, claiming this will make it competitive with a network computer.
Other features designed to attract corporate users are the inclusion of a pocket version of the Powerpoint presentation package, support for a VGA monitor and for a choice of display sizes.
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