Nearly a month after Microsoft released all the details about its Pocket PC operating system, users can finally buy devices running the product, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive officer said.
If the first version of Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system was a breakthrough, then the new version of the operating system has smoothed all the edges, Ballmer said at the launch in San Francisco, comparing the upgrade to that of Windows 3.1 from Windows 3.0 on the desktop.
Some of the improvements over the previous version of the PDA (personal digital assistant) operating system include an integrated instant messenger, the ability to beam data to and from devices running Palm's competing operating system and support of the Bluetooth wireless protocol either integrated into the device, as is the case with Compaq's iPaq or through a CompactFlash card.
One new capability of Pocket PC 2002 is the ability to change the device's main screen background to any image; users are also able to customise other OS functions and its appearance with a download from Microsoft's Web site, said Ben Waldman, vice president of Microsoft's mobile devices division.
Compaq is just one of the companies that unveiled a new device based on the operating system on Thursday. Other companies, including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Symbol Technologies, Casio and Toshiba, have also new devices based on the operating system.
At the first Pocket PC launch in 2000, Microsoft was being outsold eight to one by the competition in the market for PDA operating systems, Ballmer said. Eighteen months later, that number has dropped below two to one, he said. And Microsoft is staying committed to this market.
"This is not a short-term initiative," Ballmer said.