Gates Demos WinCE Smart Phone

Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates has demonstrated a prototype of a Windows CE-based smart phone capable of accessing the Internet, and said his company has changed its vision statement to reflect the importance of such devices.

Microsoft's original vision was "a PC in every home and on every desk", he said, but that vision is no longer big enough.

"This is the first time in our 25-year history we've actually changed our vision statement," Gates said.

The handset demonstrated by Gates featured a colour screen and a scroll button on the side for manoeuvring a cursor, and is capable of accessing any Web site based on HTML, he said.

It also offers users four different ways to reply to e-mail, Gates added. The response can be in the form of text, a phone call, a recorded voice file or a fax, he said.

The presentation was made over the Swiss carrier diAX's GSM (global system for mobile communications) network.

Connecting at 9.6K bps, Gates also connected to the Web via Microsoft's microbrowser, displaying Web pages with high graphic content. Although the time to download appeared to be quick, the pages were cached for the demo, confirmed Jonathan Roberts, general manager market development for Windows CE at Microsoft.

"At 9.6Kbps or even 14.4(Kbps), you are not going to want to do free-range browsing," but the system is fine for e-mail, Roberts said.

Unlike most of the smart mobile devices being shown here, the Microsoft prototype does not rely on WAP (wireless application protocol) to download Web content. WAP was designed to make the transfer of data more efficient, so that applications such as Web browsing do not require as much bandwidth. WAP uses WML (wireless markup language), a language for Web content that is more lightweight than HTML.

The phone will be ready for trials during 2000 on GSM or CDMA (code division multiple access) networks, said Roberts. Microsoft does not know when such a phone might actually be on the market.

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Jana Sanchez

PC World

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