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Windows CE .net is complementary to Windows Embedded but is aimed at small handheld devices and mobile phones rather than the clipboard-like Tablet PCs currently being developed.
The launch brings into question the longevity of Windows CE 3.0, which was released last autumn as part of the Pocket PC 2002 specification.
As yet, no comment has been forthcoming from Microsoft regarding the Pocket PC but it may be possible to port the new operating system to the flash chips in current models from Compaq and Hewlett-Packard.
Developments announced at the launch event included Simpad, a Siemens mobile Web access device which is currently based on CE 3.0, and a thin client from Wyse. This instant support has been made possible through Microsoft's early production of a downloadable emulator to allow developers to work in the Windows 2000/XP environments. The company also provided a free beta version of the operating system on CD-Rom.
Windows CE .net has improved support for both Bluetooth and 802.11b wireless standards. It also runs Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.5 browser and XML 3.0 - key components of the .net architecture. For multimedia support, Microsoft has supplied Windows Media codecs and controls.