Microsoft gets Pegasus OS ready for new PDAs

Microsoft is once again ready to release Pegasus, the company's second attempt at a Windows-based version of a small-footprint OS for hand-held personal digital assistants (PDAs).

The question is, will Pegasus-based PDAs, expected by year's end, fly with corporate IS managers?

"We bypassed PDAs the first time around because there just weren't any business applications written for the hand-helds," says Frank Petersmark, IS manager at Amerisure, in Southfield, Michigan. "We might look at [Pegasus] if it's not just a `gee-whiz' device but has proven business capability."

This time around the software giant believes it has created an operating system that can be used as the foundation for such a business device, according to sources. And to prove it, the company is sending Microsoft evangelists out across the country to provide previews of Pegasus to analysts and vendors, industry sources say.

This week, Casio Computer has announced that it is collaborating with Microsoft to build the hardware for a new category of consumer PDAs that connect to and share data with computers running Windows OSes. Sources say notebook vendors Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and Toshiba all plan to unveil devices based on Pegasus this year.

Next week, Microsoft is hosting a private software developers' conference about the operating system at its Redmond, Washington, headquarters.

"I think we are within weeks of an announcement, and we'll see devices based on Pegasus by the third quarter," says Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group. "We'll see volumes shipping by Christmas."

Pegasus will be based on a kernel of Microsoft's Win32 API set, will require 2Mb of RAM, and will have Internet access, email capability, wireless communications, and the capability to view Microsoft Word and Excel documents, according to sources briefed by Microsoft. Pegasus-based devices will be capable of exchanging data with Windows-based desktops and notebooks.

According to sources, Microsoft is recommending various hardware specifications, including a PC Card slot, infrared data-transfer capability, and a form factor weighing less than 0.5kg.

Microsoft would not comment, nor would hardware vendors.

Provisional Features of a Pegasus-Based PDA

-- Based on kernel of Win32 API set

-- Requires 2Mb of RAM

-- PC Card slot

-- Infrared port

-- Grey-scale LCD

-- Built-in email and Internet access

-- Desktop synchronisation

-- Weight: less than 0.5kg

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