Microsoft Plans to Make WAP Obsolete with Pocket PC OS

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From: Sally Khudairi (
Date: Thu Feb 24 2000 - 01:45:30 PST

Computergram International
Section: 01. Top Stories

By Dan Jones

Microsoft Corp hopes to make WAP obsolete with its new version of Windows
CE, called Pocket PC, which it is previewing at the CeBit trade show in
Hannover, Germany this week. A bullish Microsoft is pushing the fact that
the Pocket Internet Explorer browser bundled with Pocket PC can download
standard web pages written in HTML and JavaScript onto a device and then
convert the data so that it can be read on the smaller screen size with
software on the device, doing away with need for specialized WAP servers or
web pages written in wireless markup language.

Microsoft, which is itself a member of the WAP Forum, claims that Pocket PC
will go beyond the nascent wireless protocol in terms of users being able to
view web pages with graphics and listen to streaming audio files on their
handheld devices. "The WAP folks have done a great job of providing basic
text web pages on mobile devices," said Phil Holden, group product manager
for Microsoft's mobile devices division. However, users now require the
ability to view 'standard' web pages, he said. Pocket IE also offers the
same secure socket layer security-plug-in that most standard desktop
browsers use, something that Microsoft expects will encourage the growth of
wireless e-commerce.

Microsoft has tried to address the issue of restricted bandwidth on wireless
by making the download of web pages a two-stage process. First, a device
downloads text from a web page and then any graphics files. Holden admits
that the download is slower than downloading pages onto a desktop machine,
but says that the download times are still "satisfactory."

One of the main benefits that Pocket IE offers is that content providers
don't have to rework their sites for wireless users, Holden says. "It's not
limited to a set of clippings," he added, taking a direct swipe at the
service offered to the users of the Palm VII, which displays information
gathered from a web site in a text-only questionnaire-style format. "The
Palm VII does some interesting things," Holden allows, "but it was really
only an experiment." He sees new handhelds being developed by Casio Ltd,
Compaq Computer Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co and Siemens AG using the Pocket PC
OS, due in the first half of this year, as rivals to the high-end offerings
from Palm Computing Inc, especially the Palm VII.

Holden also damned Microsoft's other major rival in the handheld space,
Symbian Plc, with faint praise. The consortium has just revealed 'Quartz',
its first EPOC-based reference design for handheld devices at CeBit (see
separate story). "Quartz looks very similar to the kind of functionality
Pocket PC will provide," Holden opined, but said that Microsoft would beat
the Symbian devices to market.


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