Microsoft tweaks PDA plans
Toshiba and Compaq adopt 'go-slow' approach for Pegasus OS
By _Mark Moore_
For observers of Microsoft Corp.'s past foibles in the PDA arena, it may seem
like deja vu: In the face of mounting skepticism from some OEMs, the software
giant is making significant changes to its mobile computing strategy.
The changes include repositioning its pending Pegasus 1.0 release as an
operating system for "handheld PCs" instead of personal digital assistants,
moving up the Pegasus unveiling from November to next month and developing
another handheld operating system aimed at smaller, lightweight devices.
These changes come as some major OEMs, still smarting from involvement in
Microsoft's failed WinPad effort, have decided not to fund their own hardware
development programs for the Pegasus operating system.
In fact, two stalwarts of the stillborn WinPad effort, Toshiba America
Information Systems Inc. and Compaq Computer Corp., have backtracked on their
original plans to launch Pegasus 1.0 devices.
Toshiba, originally part of the Pegasus 1.0 initiative, has decided not to
develop a unit for the first generation of the handheld operating system,
according to sources.
Meanwhile, Compaq will proceed slowly with Pegasus 1.0 by licensing its
first-generation Pegasus device from Casio Computer Co. Ltd., rather than
building a unit in-house, according to sources close to the Houston PC giant.
"It's a less risky route to have somebody else make the thing," said one
source familiar with Compaq's Pegasus plans.
"Toshiba is passing on the first version of Pegasus," said a source close to
the Irvine, Calif., portable PC maker. "They want to see what shakes out in
While Toshiba officials declined to comment, sources said the company plans
to license U.S. Robotics Inc.'s Palm Pilot organizer/ communicator. Sources
said Toshiba is continuing to evaluate the second version of the Microsoft
operating system, called Pegasus 1.1, which is due six to nine months after
Version 1.0 is unveiled.
The unveiling of Pegasus 1.0, originally slated for mid-November, has been
moved up to Sept. 9, perhaps to stave off additional defections to the
competing Pilot effort and other PDA platforms, sources said.
In the meantime, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., has added yet another
operating system to its stable of mobile operating systems.
The operating system, code-named Gryphon, is about half the size of Pegasus
and is targeted toward smaller, lightweight devices such as smart pagers,
smart phones and PDAs, sources said.
With Gryphon addressing more limited-function devices, Microsoft will
position Pegasus as an operating system for handheld PCs by capitalizing on
its ability to read Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, sources
In addition, it will be able to send and receive wireless E-mail messages and
browse the World Wide Web with a scaled-down version of Microsoft's Internet
Microsoft, which recently showed Gryphon to some potential device
manufacturers, is planning to release the lightweight operating system next
year, sources said.
Compaq, Toshiba and U.S. Robotics officials all declined to comment.
Additional reporting by Michael Moeller