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Microsoft Debuts New Platforms for PC Devices

Microsoft Corp. introduced today two new additions to its PC Companion product line: Palm PC and Auto PC.

Palm PC is a small "palm-sized" portable device powered by Windows CE version 2.0 that serves as an extension of a users' desktop, including calendar, contacts, tasks, inbox, and Internet and intranet information.

The devices come equipped with a variety of applications, such as "Pocket Outlook," which includes calendar, contacts, tasks, and inbox; "Note Taker," which converts ink and text notes into Word or other text format for use on a desktop PC; "Voice Recorder," a recording application for voice notes; and "Mobile Channels," a viewer for accessing Web content offline.

A number of hardware manufacturers announced they have begun development of products that support the Palm PC platform, including Casio Computer, FIC Group (Everex/LEO), LG Electronics, Palmax Technology, Philips Electronics North America, Samsung Electronics America, and Uniden Corp.

Auto PC is a device the size of a car stereo that responds to voice commands, enabling drivers to access wireless information such as e-mails, pages, traffic alerts, and other data while "keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."

The device, which can be installed into a car's dashboard, responds to verbal commands and implements speech synthesis to broadcast information to drivers. The expandable platform is designed to enable third-party vendors to create additional applications, such as cellular phone integration, vehicle diagnostic applications, and others.

Auto PC devices are currently being developed for shipment the second quarter of 1998 from vendors such as Alpine Japan, Clarion Corp. of America, Daewoo Telecom, Hyundai Electronics Industries, IAV GmbH, Infinity Systems, JBL Inc., Magneti Marelli S.p.A., MD-Co., Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A., PSA Peugeot Citroen, Samsung Electronics, United Technologies Automotive, Visteon Corp. and Volkswagen AG.

"We know that the average user of the automobile spends about seven hours per week behind the wheel, and this is largely unproductive time," said Brad Bradshaw, vice president, marketing, Nissan. "Since time is a luxury for our customers and we can't give them more of it, we at Infiniti are exploring new technologies like the Auto PC that can simplify their lives."

Microsoft reports the PC Companion devices are designed to work together, thus enabling Palm PC and Auto PC devices to share information.

A number of software vendors reported they have begun developing applications for the PC Companion product line, including InfoGation Corp., Etak Inc., GoldMine Software Corp., Network Associates Inc. (formerly McAfee Associates) and Metrowerks Inc.

Microsoft reports it will begin shipping Palm PC and Auto PC software to OEM vendors the first quarter 1998. To assist developers of applications for Windows CE-powered devices, Microsoft is hosting a Windows CE Developers Conference, April 6-8, 1998, at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, CA.

For more information, visit the Windows CE Developer site.