Microsoft Previews PDAs, Tablets

LOS ANGELES -- Microsoft is giving developers a look into the future of Pocket PCs and Tablet PCs.

New capabilities for Windows Mobile handhelds and a new version of the Tablet PC operating system are among the innovations being shown at the Professional Developers Conference here this week.

Differences on Display

New development tools will enable vendors to create Pocket PCs with square displays instead of today's rectangular ones. In addition, future devices will be capable of full VGA (640 by 480) resolution; today's Pocket PC screen are limited to 320 by 240 resolution.

Further, the next generation of Pocket PC applications will be able to run in either landscape or portrait mode, says Irwin Rodrigues, lead product manager for Microsoft's Mobile Devices Division.

The coming generation of programming tools will allow engineers to create a mobile version of a desktop application easily, Rodriguez says. They will be able to use the same development environment for both, he adds.

Microsoft wants to make it easier for developers to sell and for customers to find and buy applications for Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs and Smartphones, he says.

To that end, Microsoft has announced a new Mobile2Market program that will compile a catalog of Microsoft-certified Windows Mobile applications. Developers must pay Microsoft to have their apps tested and certified. Microsoft says that this program will expose a larger number of high-quality applications to its reseller partners, and then to end users.

Tablet Talk

On the Tablet PC front, Jim Allchin, vice president of Microsoft's Windows Platform Group, has disclosed plans for a new version of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. Code-named Lonestar, the new operating system should ship in the first half of 2004.

Allchin revealed few details about planned changes. He said only that the new version "has dramatically better [handwriting] recognition capabilities, as well as several other very, very nice facilities."

Some 7000 developers from all over the world are here for the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, where the company has unveiled its next-generation version of Windows (code-named Longhorn) and the development tools for it.

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