Working with Wi

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-08-04 Print this article Print

-Fi on the Tiqit"> True to Tiqits compatibility pitch, Microsoft Office and other productivity applications ran quite well. Popping in an Agere Orinoco Wi-Fi card gave me nearly instant and convenient access to the Web, which Internet Explorer rendered better than any PDA browser would. I was able to use Web applications that simply would choke on a Windows CE handheld; this is an important consideration for intranet sites that work only in IE due to slashed budgets. Tiqit, like its competitors, will cost enough to make even Sonys and Hewlett-Packards most expensive handhelds seem cheap. These devices will be priced from about $1,500 to $2.000, so at this point the decision to purchase is really more between the Windows XP handheld and a laptop rather than the Windows XP handheld and a Windows CE handheld.
In short, Tiqit has done an impressive job on a first effort. Yet I kept thinking that things would be a lot better with a little help from Microsoft, which has shown with Tablet PC and Media Center that the company is not above extending Windows to accommodate strategic device groups. Much of that help might be no more creative than applying the relatively minimalist Windows Mobile design philosophy back to XP in some kind of streamlined interface mode.
So what will be keys to success for this new category of handhelds? First off, a file management interface optimized for smaller platforms, akin to the one in Media Center optimized for the television experience, would also help. Microsoft will have to do this eventually anyway as Windows Mobile devices manage exponentially more files. And if Microsoft wont invest in such a form factor (for fear of confusing customers or cannibalizing Windows Mobile) then third parties or the device makers themselves should. Since they need to differentiate their products from Windows CE devices, this first round of Windows XP handhelds will focus on functionality. Theyll support features like PC Cards, large hard disks, and FireWire ports. I believe the next challenge, though, will be making them great handhelds, with longer battery life and easier access to information. Putting the leading applications in front of people and having the power of the PC behind the scenes will be the key to success for these intriguing mobile hybrids. What features do you think are key to a Windows XP handheld? Can these devices succeed without explicit support from Microsoft? E-mail me. Wireless Supersite Editor Ross Rubin is a senior analyst at eMarketer. He has researched wireless communications since 1994 and has been covering technology since 1989. More from Ross Rubin:


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