CES: Microsoft Launches Palm PC, AutoPC Software

Microsoft Corp. introduced software for two new devices based on its Windows CE operating system, and vendors announced related products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Microsoft's Auto PC software is designed for use in car-stereo-sized devices that can be installed in a car dashboard, according to a statement from Microsoft. Auto PC is designed around a speech interface and will respond to oral commands and use speech synthesis to communicate with drivers, the statement said.

Microsoft Corp. introduced software for two new devices based on its Windows CE operating system, and vendors announced related products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

Microsoft's Auto PC software is designed for use in car-stereo-sized devices that can be installed in a car dashboard, according to a statement from Microsoft. Auto PC is designed around a speech interface and will respond to oral commands and use speech synthesis to communicate with drivers, the statement said.

Auto PC offers drivers access to driving directions and traffic alerts as well as personal wireless services including e-mail and paging, the statement said. Auto PC also contains an AM/FM radio and a CD player, and, as a product in Microsoft's PC Companion line, is designed to permit the exchange of information between a Palm PC, also announced today, and Microsoft's Handheld PC, according to the statement. Auto PC software will be delivered to OEMs in the first quarter, it said.

The other new PC Companion line product, Palm PC, is designed to offer desktop information, synchronization, offline Web viewing and support for wireless communication in a device which fits in a user's hand, according to the Microsoft statement.

In addition, Palm PC contains handwriting recognition capabilities from Communication Intelligence Corp. (CIC), according to a CIC statement also released at the show.

Microsoft will ship the Palm PC software to OEMs in the first quarter, and so far seven hardware manufacturers have announced support for it, including Casio Computer Co. Ltd., FIC Group, LG Electronics Inc., Palmax Technology Co. Ltd., Philips Electronics North America Corp. and Samsung Electronics America Inc., according to the Microsoft statement.

Uniden Corp. today announced a palmtop based on Palm PC software which it said in a statement will include handwriting recognition, an internal modem, organizer functions and a voice note pad that lets users record personal messages. Uniden is also working on Palm PC-compatible wireless accessories, including pager cards and two-way transceivers, the statement said. The products should be available sometime in the third quarter, it said.

A number of developers have also announced support for the Auto PC and the Palm PC, according to a separate statement from Microsoft. Networks Associates Inc. said it would bring out products designed for Windows CE this year, and Metrowerks Inc. said it would provide development tools for the platform, according to the Microsoft statement.

Vendors with announcements at the show related to Microsoft's include GPS technology maker Trimble, which announced that its technology, which aids users with navigation, was used in Auto PC, and speech-technology vendor Lernout & Hauspie, which announced that a port of its speech technology licensed to Microsoft for Auto PC is now available for Windows CE.

Other vendors that announced support for the Auto PC include, according to Microsoft, Alpine Japan, Clarion Corporation of America, Daewoo Telecom Ltd., Hyundai Electronics Industries Company Ltd., IAV GmbH, Infinity Systems Inc., JBL Inc., Magneti Marelli SpA,., MD-Co., Nissan Motor Corp. USA, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., United Technologies Automotive Inc., Visteon Corp. and Volkswagen AG.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com/.

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