In a recent keynote address, Bill Gates announced the creation of a new Windows CE device. This device, code named “Rapier,” will be called the pocket PC, and it will become available in several months from a variety of companies, including Compaq and HP.

The pocket PC will be similar to today’s high-end palm tops. Like the palmtops, it will run Windows CE. However, the pocket PC will feature a high-speed, 32-bit processor and a great deal of RAM. With a flash card, you’ll be able to get a pocket PC to support up to 300 MB of RAM. The pocket PCs will also feature bright color screens and high quality stereo sound. As with current Windows CE devices, the pocket PC will offer full support for PCMCIA cards, which allow you to use such devices as modems, digital cameras, and network cards with your pocket PC. The Windows CE operating system also has been modified to make it more responsive.

During his speech, Bill Gates demonstrated two new technologies that will be integrated into pocket PCs. The first of these technologies is the Microsoft Reader with ClearType display technology. The Microsoft Reader allows you to read books in electronic format directly from your pocket PC. The goal is to make reading an electronic book similar to reading a printed book. This new technology supports illustrations as well as text. Another technology called will allow you to have the book read to you verbally, should you desire it to do so. Finally, if you don’t have a book that you like, you’ll be able to access an on-line library to download a new one.

Another new technology is the Windows Media Player for the pocket PC. Windows Media Player will allow the pocket PC to play audio and video files without worrying about their format. As you might guess, the pocket PC features full MP3 support and allows you to generate custom play lists, based on the music that you’ve downloaded. Starting in February of 2000, the Windows Media Player can be downloaded from Microsoft to existing devices.

Microsoft stated that the new devices are a response to users’ demands for more functionality from devices that are used traditionally as personal organizers. A spokesperson for Microsoft says that people are busier than ever before. If people have ten minutes free during a cab ride or while waiting in line for a movie, they probably won’t get out their laptop. However, because of its small size and instant-on feature, the pocket PC is practical for them to use during this short time. Before the cab ride is over, they could send messages or update their calendars.

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE and works as a freelance technical writer and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. If you’d like to contact Brien, send him an e-mail . (Because of the large volume of e-mail he receives, it’s impossible for him to respond to every message. However, he does read them all.)

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