Microsoft Corp. today will introduce the next version of its Pocket PC operating system, with enhancements focusing largely on phone features, as well as wireless LAN and WAN support. Many licensees, however, say they are shying away from integrating phones into their PDAs, at least for now.
Hewlett-Packard Co., Gateway Inc., Toshiba Computer Systems Group and Dell Computer Corp. are among the companies licensing the new operating system—Windows Mobile 2003 Software for Pocket PC—which includes automatic Wi-Fi LAN configuration and network detection.
The software also boasts better security than previous versions, including support for an IP Security virtual private network client and the 802.1x protocol. The operating system also supports Bluetooth profiles, said Microsoft officials, in Redmond, Wash.
The operating system includes better voice and data phone functions, including a mute button, separate volume controls for the phone and the rest of the device, and e-mail and Short Message Service signatures. Still, many licensees are not ready to release a phone-enabled Pocket PC.
"Youll see us continue to focus on data first and then voice," said Ted Clark, vice president of handhelds in the Personal Systems Group at HP, in Houston. "We learned we need to put effort into the user experience."
HP is supporting the new operating system on several new iPaq devices, which will be available this week. The iPaq Pocket PC H1940 includes an SDIO slot, and the company plans to release an SDIO camera for the device in the fall. Other iPaqs for the 2003 operating system include the 5550, which has 128MB of RAM.
The new operating system also marks Gateways Pocket PC entrance. The Gateway 100x PDA will be available next month. It has no wireless capabilities, but company officials, in Poway, Calif., said a version with Wi-Fi capabilities will come out next year. A Pocket PC phone is possible, especially because the company already works closely with Verizon Communications Inc., but if it happens, it will take a while, officials said.
Toshiba will introduce two Pocket PCs. The e750/e755 series includes integrated Wi-Fi support, while the e350/ e355 series does not. Both include Secure Digital expansion slots; the e750/e755 includes Compact Flash, said officials in Irvine, Calif.