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The Incredible Shrinking Windows

Vista might be stealing all the (mostly negative) headlines, but it isn’t the only new version of Windows due next year from Microsoft. Redmond has also promised a 2007 release for Windows CE, the embedded version of the operating system that runs everything from sewing machines to gas pumps. The first beta release of CE 6.0 -- or Little Windows, as we think it should be called -- is available for partners now.

What’s more interesting about CE 6.0 is that it will provide the platform for Windows Mobile, Microsoft's OS for high-dollar cell phones and PDAs, the next version of which is also due next year. Windows Mobile has not enjoyed the same success as big daddy Windows, the PC monopolist. Not even close. Why? Well, for one thing, there’s some serious competition -- not a word often heard in conjunction with Windows -- in the mobile space from Research In Motion’s famous BlackBerry and from the Palm operating system.

Plus, evidently, Windows Mobile just isn’t that easy to use. People buy expensive little pocket toys for convenience and ease-of-use on the go. On a PC, nobody really cares how many clicks it takes to get to a particular Windows function, and Windows has actually become a pretty tight little OS, anyway. But on the small screen of a small device, click numbers matter a lot. The more taps it takes users to get what they want, the more they’re going to want to smash their expensive little cell phones to bits in frustration.

What Microsoft has now with Mobile is sort of big Windows crammed into a small space. If the Redmondians want to make the money grab that awaits the winner of the mobile OS race -- and you know they do -- they’re going to have to simplify the Mobile interface, to shrink it to fit the medium. Microsoft, make something smaller? Let’s just say it'll be a challenge.

Will Windows ever dominate on the smartphone the way it does on the PC? Let me know at lpender@rcpmag.com. (More details on CE at http://rcpmag.com/news/article.aspx?editorialsid=7419; Microsoft's CE site: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/embedded/windowsce/default.mspx.)

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Office Comes Alive... On Your Phone
At the intersection of two much-hyped -- or maybe over-hyped -- technology categories, we have Microsoft's Office Live software-as-a-service effort meeting -- hello again-- the mobile phone. Project Bronx, of which Microsoft is saying tantalizingly little, could go to beta later this month. What we know is that it'll push hosted Office functionality to cell phones via SMS. What we don’t know is... pretty much everything else.

This seems like the coming together of two areas that Microsoft has not at all (or maybe not yet?) fully mastered -- SAAS and mobile-phone technology. It’ll be interesting to see whether the result conjures up images a Manhattan penthouse or of some of the tougher streets in the borough for which the project is named. (Read more at http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,2180,1959553,00.asp

Like The Knees Of A 10-Year-Old's Jeans
Patchy -- that’s what your system will be after you implement Microsoft’s latest Patch Tuesday offerings. But, hey, it's better than having holes, right? Especially security holes. This time, Windows and Exchange are the primary patch targets, and the Exchange patch is security related. Redmond is calling two of the three patches, including the exchange fix, critical. So get that sewing needle ready... (The low down: http://rcpmag.com/news/article.aspx?editorialsid=7422; straight to the bulletins on the TechNet site: MS06-018; MS06-019; MS06-020.

Posted by Lee Pender on May 10, 2006 at 11:53 AM


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