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Current Topics In Mobile Computing

Pocket PC Platform

Microsoft Pocket PC platform is the latest version of its Window CE operating system. The first generation of Windows CE-based devices was labeled PC companions because they relied heavily on "host" PCs for applications and data. In contrast, the enhanced capacity of the latest operating system allows for built-in pocket versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word and Excel as well as multimedia capabilities of desktop and notebook PCs. According to the company, a number of technical advances have been incorporated into the platform, including

  • A simplified user interface
  • Greater speed and reliability
  • Built-in industry-standard expansion slots that provide greater extendibility via CompactFlash cards, storing up to 320MB of data

Specifications/Hardware Characteristics

  • 16-32MB of RAM
  • 32 bit processor up to 206MHz
  • 16-bit colour screens
    • Displaying more than 65,000 colours
    • 320x240 resolution
  • ClearType display technology
  • Rechargeable lithium ion battery
  • Back-up battery
  • CompactFlash slot, stores up to 320MB of data
  • Infrared

For most enterprises security is of major importance and concern. The Pocket PC platform supports the following security options:

  • Automatic device password for accessing a private network information
  • Industry-standard 40-bit or 128-bit encryptions or corporate standard encryption technique that can be plugged into the industry-standard CryptoAPI to protect data from unauthorized access.
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Private Communications Technology (PCT) to secure Web site authentication.

The challenge faced by information-centric enterprises is how to handle more and more data. Pocket PC makes it easier to capture data. Its support of the CompactFlash industry standard is a key component to capturing data and storing data, connectivity, and many peripherals for data entry. The Pocket PC has a wide range of CompactFlash cards, including:

  • CompactFlash storage card (Kingston, Lexar, PreTech, SanDisk, etc.)
  • IBM 170 and 340 MicroDrive
  • 56KB CompactFlash modem
  • Socket CompactFlash Digital Phone Card, wireless WAN: CDMA
  • Wireless Bluetooth CompactFlash card
  • GPS Compact Flash card

The following also allow data flow from Pocket PC devices:

  • CompactFlash barcode readers
  • Built-in microphones
  • Fast infrared connections
  • Wireless phone connections
  • Plug-in keyboards
  • 56KB modems
  • High-speed LAN connections

To enhance the functionality of business applications, Pocket PC offers a wide range of capabilities.

  • Multitasking is a fundamental OS capability that allows the device to perform more than one task at a time. For example, the device can download emails with attachments from a server while the user is using a Web-based application.
  • The high-resolution colour screen makes viewing maps, digital photos, schematics blueprint, and Web-page and multimedia applications ideal.
  • A built-in audio recorder, which works like a digital Dictaphone, can record oral notes.
  • Barcode scanning, via a Socket In-Hand Scanner, plugs into the Type II CompactFlash slot found on most Pocket PC.

Synchronization and Connectivity Options
ActiveSync® 3.1 technology enables continuous updating of changes when the device is connected to a PC. Synchronization and connectivity options, include the following:

  • Auto on-connect sync
  • Unattended installation kit for desktop sync installation
  • Sync over Infrared to Windows, 95/98/2000
  • Sync over USB at USB data rate
  • Data-ready cell phones can be used as a modem when connected to a CompactFlash slot or an infrared port on infrared-enabled phones
  • LAN connectivity is available via CompactFlash slot
  • High Speed Infrared connectivity is available to sync with PCs, connect to phones, and exchange contact information with other handheld devices
  • 56KB CompactFlash modems are available to provide similar access to data-ready cell phones, but at higher speeds

Pocket PC Compared to Palm OS


Pocket PC

Palm OS



























2AAA or Li-Ion

Device Price

$499 to $599

$149- $350

As the above comparative table illustrates the Palm OS is more suited for accomplishing simple tasks --- maintaining list of contacts, scheduling meetings and tracking tasks – than a productivity device, due to its limited CPUs, storage and expansion capabilities. In contrast, the PocketPC has the capacity to do more, and more expansion capabilities than most Palm OS devices. Of course, Palm Pilot and Palm OS is moving in the direction of more functionality - based on simplicity but moving towards more functionality for the enterprise. Pocket PC followed the reverse route.

Information based on the following sources:


Manufactures of Pocket PC Devices

For Pocket PC Applications in Field Service and Customer Service, Click here.

* Source: Microsoft website (June 2000)

For more information: www.microsoft.com/mobile/enterprise/

Related Resources:
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