Microsoft drops Windows CE name

Microsoft plans to abandon "Windows CE" as the name of its operating system for handheld, palm-sized, and embedded devices, and instead brand these devices as "Windows powered".

The move is an attempt by Microsoft to keep its Windows brand equity while dropping a name that has had less than overwhelming success in the consumer market, according to observers.

A Microsoft marketing official downplayed the significance of the move.

"This isn't a major change. This is just a naming thing," said Brian Shafer, international marketing manager for Microsoft's Information Appliance Division.

However, the name change may cause some consternation in the marketplace on which Microsoft has not counted.

"If I get a handheld that says 'Windows Powered', and it doesn't have the full features of Windows, I would be confused," said Max Malek, information technology manager at Le Meridien Hotel, in Beverly Hills, part of the Forte of London group of 500 international hotels.

According to Shafer, the company made the change because users do not care about the name of the operating system.

"Whatever's under the covers, Windows CE or Windows 9x or whatever, that's less relevant to the average consumer," Shafer said.

Malek disagreed.

"I would expect to see a fully featured version on handheld and mobile devices that said 'Windows powered'," Malek said.

Whatever Microsoft hopes to accomplish by dropping the Windows CE name, one analyst does not see much of a change in the marketplace.

"If Palm changed their name to 'Powered by 3Com', that would make a big difference. Palm has created brand equity and brand loyalty. Microsoft hasn't established that same level of brand equity and loyalty," said David Hayden, senior analyst at Mobile Insights, in California.

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