Microsoft is tackling the sticky issue of combining the functionality of several devices -- pagers, laptops, cell phones, and PDAs (personal digital assistants) -- into one unit.
Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer last week outlined the device, a PC tablet prototype that company officials stress is in the development stages and at least two years away from fruition. It would include the functions of a two-way pager, PDA, and notebook.
A developer with close ties to Microsoft said researchers also are wrestling with telephony issues, with the end result being the "everyday internet" vision of Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates.
"Microsoft's strategy here is to provide a platform for secure, reliable, and globally available Office, web, and instant messaging services, that also include data, video, and voice conferencing," said the developer, who requested anonymity.
"They're working with wireless device manufacturers on a type of portable phone, pager, web, email, scanner, fax device -- not cell, from what I hear, but some other technology -- that will run Windows CE," the developer said.
Two former Xerox Parc officials, Butler Lampson and Chuck Thacker, are heading the development along with Dick Brass, Microsoft's vice president of technology development.