Microsoft announced Monday that it was shipping the release version of Windows CE 2.0 to hardware manufacturers for inclusion in handheld computers and other devices due this Fall. Windows CE 2.0 includes a new Pocket version of PowerPoint, and support for 24-bit color, Ethernet, and a "half-VGA" 640 x 240 resolution. The interface was changed somewhat to more closely resemble the IE 4.0 shell integration in Windows 98 and NT 5.0, with forward and back buttons on the toolbars, and a "show desktop" option in the tray.
Windows CE was modified to appeal more to business users as well. Craig Mundie, a senior VP at Microsoft, says that CE 2.0 enables compatible devices to print via an infrared connection and offers better security through Ethernet connections. Synchronization with desktop machines has also improved with the new ActiveSync technology that lets synchronization occur automatically.
Other improvements: Pocket Word now includes a spell checker and a split screen mode, Pocket Word and Pocket Excel now sport zoom mode and a full screen view, True Type fonts, and email attachment support.
In the good-news department, four CE manufacturers, NEC, Hewlett Packard, Casio, and Philips, are offering free ROM upgrades to Windows CE 2.0. The first CE 2.0 device to ship will likely be the HP 360LX, which will feature a color screen and a $700 price tag