Pocket PC and Windows Smartphone

Microsoft's Mobile Devices division, one of seven Microsoft business units, has developed the Pocket PC, Pocket PC Phone Edition, and Windows Powered Smartphone OSs. These platforms, based on the Windows CE OS, specifically target small-form-factor devices. The OSs are licensed to the OEM, which builds the hardware and produces the final devices. Many OEMs have signed up to build devices based on Mobile Devices OSs. However, this group has obvious competition from PalmSource (licensee of the Palm OS) and Symbian (licensee of the EPOC OS), and the jury is still out regarding which OS will rise to prominence in the next couple of years. Considering recent announcements from Redmond, Microsoft seems to be making a charge.

Pocket PC PDAs have been available for years from many OEMs. In 2002, a couple of OEMs released devices based on the Pocket PC Phone Edition, an OS that adds telephony integration to the Pocket PC. T-Mobile and AT&T Wireless Services currently offer these devices. A few months ago, I reported on the first Windows Smartphone device to hit the market: the Orange SPV, which HTC developed and released in the United Kingdom. The problem in the United States is that existing devices work only with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM)/General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) networks, thereby limiting their adoption in the United States.

Two press releases recently caught my attention. First, Microsoft announced the forthcoming release of several new Pocket PC Phone Edition and Windows Smartphone devices. These new devices, which will be based on Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology, are the Samsung i700 and Hitachi Mobile Communicator—both on the brink of release in the United States.

Second, HTC announced that it will release an SPV-like device in the US market on the T-Mobile network. As with the SPV, this device will be GSM/GPRS-compatible, so we'll finally see a Windows Smartphone available in the United States.

Clearly, Microsoft has been working diligently to produce these new OSs and align with OEMs to release devices to the market. Time will tell whether Microsoft's Mobile Devices group will hit the mark with these new devices, but signs are looking good.

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