Microsoft today introduced the Chinese-language version of its Pocket PC 2002 software for PDAs (personal digital assistants), highlighting a slew of new handheld devices developed by major Taiwanese manufacturers.
"Mobility is extremely important to Microsoft's future," said Dave Wright, general manager of product marketing for Asia at Microsoft's Mobility Group.
First unveiled in October, Pocket PC 2002 offers several improvements over earlier versions of the software. Improvements include an instant-messenger application, the ability to beam data to and from PDAs running Palm Inc.'s Palm OS, and Bluetooth support. Pocket PC 2002 also allows users to customize functions and appearance of the interface, including the ability to change the desktop background.
There's more to Microsoft's strategy for addressing certain geographic markets than changing the wallpaper, though.
"A Pocket PC is by nature kind of a global product, what you have to do is to make sure you're addressing a local market through unique features and, especially, language," Wright said.
The Chinese-language version of Pocket PC 2002 supports simplified and traditional Chinese characters and, in keeping with Microsoft's strategy, offers several additional features, including full-screen handwriting recognition. This turns a PDA's entire screen into a writing pad and allows users to input multiple Chinese characters at the same time, with the ability to suggest Chinese characters and phrases.
Showing off the new software, several Taiwanese manufacturers rolled out their latest PDAs.
Taipei-based Asustek Computer, a new entrant into the PDA market, showed off its thin Asus Pocket PC AD300 PDA, which is based on a StrongARM processor with 64M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) and 64M bytes of flash memory, and offers up to 12 hours of battery life. Pricing and availability was not immediately available.
Eten showed off a Pocket PC 2002 PDA with a built-in GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone and a wireless stock-trading application.
Rounding out the range of devices on display, Compal Electronics, Inventec and High-Tech Computer also showed off Pocket PC 2002-based PDAs, as did Compaq Computer and Hewlett-Packard, who showed off the latest versions of their iPaq and Jornada PDAs, respectively.
Acer was on hand for the introduction of the Chinese version of Pocket PC 2002 but did not show off a PDA based on the new version. Company officials said the company would introduce its first Pocket PC-based PDA during the second quarter of 2002.
Acer is holding off on shipping its device until the next version of the StrongARM processor is available, according to Jim Wong, president of the IT Business Group at Acer Inc.'s Acer Brand Operation division. "That offers higher performance and is lower in power consumption and that is very beneficial for our offering," he said.