Windows CE Coming to a Palmtop, Automobile Near You, Reports CMP's Computer Reseller News

Report Posted on Details Plans for Microsoft, Partners To Field Windows Wallet, Auto Windows CE Devices

May 9, 1997

According to a report by Computer Reseller News Managing Editor Mary Jo Foley and Associate Editor Jeff Bliss, Microsoft Corp. has big plans for little computers. The story, posted to CRN Online at, says that Microsoft "will use its Windows CE Developers Conference in San Diego next week (week of May 12) to test the waters for a wallet-sized handheld system and an onboard automobile device that will run CE." Foley and Bliss report that the devices are expected to ship next year and that the wallet-sized system, code-named Gryphon, will debut at Comdex/Spring next month, and cites sources close to the company.

Microsoft has a handful of partners currently manufacturing handheld Windows CE systems, including Casio, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, and NEC, Philips, CRN notes. "Microsoft is counting on the next version of the operating environment, version 2.0, to make the equation more attractive," Foley and Bliss write. "Windows CE 2.0 will run on current and future models of handheld PCs, as well as on other form-factor devices. As with version 1.0, it will include the H/PC Shell. Version 2.0 also will feature Internet Explorer 4.0 integration, personal information manager improvements and new Pocket Office functionality."

Foley and Bliss also note that Gryphon's sister device -- a car navigational aid with a speech-based user interface -- is probably a bit further out. The onboard device, they write, currently code-named Apollo, used to be known internally as Project Dearborn.

"Microsoft will be teaching every man, woman and child to use the Windows interface," the report quotes Karl Wilhelm, Vice President of SRA Corp., a Fairfax, Va.-based systems integrator saying. "Pilot has been blazing the trail, but Microsoft has the power to price this very low."

CRN states that unlike the present version, CE 2.0 will include DirectX, Active X and Component Object Model technologies. In addition, the publication notes, it will incorporate Ethernet support and printing capabilities, said sources familiar with Microsoft's plans.

The CRN report also states that Microsoft insiders denied that the company has any plans to build or label with the Microsoft name any Gryphon or Apollo devices and that sources close to Microsoft said the Gryphon and Apollo systems are likely to be manufactured "by the usual (Windows CE handheld computer) suspects," and will run version 2.0 of Windows CE, which Microsoft is slated to detail in full to its partners under nondisclosure this week.

Following is additional reporting from the Computer Reseller News story:

At a panel discussion at the TechEd conference in Orlando, Fla., this week (week of may 5), Microsoft Windows CE Tools Product Manager Mark Peterson said Microsoft expects Windows CE to be the operating system on WebTV boxes within a year as long as Microsoft's proposed acquisition of WebTV is completed.

At the same time, Windows CE is scaling upward, as well. A growing number of hardware and software vendors expect Microsoft to make CE the operating environment that runs on its forthcoming Windows Terminals.

"Three years from now, 16 Mbytes of ROM and RAM devices will be standard," allowing Microsoft to deliver a more robust operating system on nonstandard PC platforms, Peterson said.

Gryphon and Apollo are an attempt to boost Windows CE's fortunes by giving existing and new mobile hardware vendors new platforms to build upon.

The new release will be supported by Windows CE versions of Microsoft's Visual Basic and Visual J++ tools. It also will support Java applications and color and may include the company's implementation of a Java Virtual Machine, sources said.

Microsoft, Redmond, is expected to make available to conference attendees an ActiveX control development kit for CE 2.0. Windows CE 1.0 is supported by a CE version of Microsoft's Visual C++.

In addition, Microsoft is expected to distribute development kits designed to help channel partners, ISVs and OEMs develop for Windows CE 2.0. Among the code it will dole out at the conference is version 2.0 of a device driver kit that will allow Windows CE to run on more types of devices.

The OEM version is expected to ship in August or September. However, this schedule could conflict with hardware products because OEMs currently are uncertain about which features will be included in version 2.0 and which ones will be left out.

-0- 05/09/97

SOURCE: CMP Media, Inc.

CONTACT: Leslie Dunbar of CMP Media, 516-562-7040, or
ldunbar(at); Mary Jo Foley of Computer Reseller News, 206-523-5465, or
mfoley(at); or Catherine Jarrat Koatz of CMP Media, 516-562-7827, or