Over the years, there has been a trend towards making computers more and more portable.
The first successful version of this was the laptop, but, at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) yesterday, Bill Mitchell, VP of Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Platforms Division, said that most laptops aren’t as convenient as they need to be.
In many cases they are still too large and their battery lives are too short. “Most people are moving them from one AC outlet to another,” said Mitchell.
The next attempt at making PCs more mobile was the Tablet PCs. However, after being launched with a great deal of optimism a few years ago, these have not caught on the way Microsoft hoped they would. Last year, they accounted for just 1.3 percent of all laptop sales.
Microsoft’s New Concept
This is why Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect, unveiled a new concept in mobile computing at WinHEC yesterday.
Although several micro-PCs are already on the market, like Sony’s Vaio U70, Microsoft’s concept is for a device that will cost less than $1,000, weigh less than 2 pounds, and offer a constant wireless connection to the Internet.
The company has great hopes for this concept. It hopes to have 100 million Ultra Mobile 2007 devices in users’ hands by 2008.
What Does this Mean for Handhelds?
As the Ultra Mobile 2007 device is just a bit larger than current handhelds, some might wonder whether this means Microsoft is going to phase out its Windows Mobile operating system.
However, this is unlikely, as Windows XP is not suitable for running on smartphones, and sales of these devices are expected to dwarf even Microsoft’s most optimistic projections for Ultra Mobile 2007.
So Windows Mobile, Microsoft’s operating system for smartphones will almost certainly continue. And the information that has leaked out about Magneto, the next version of Windows Mobile, makes it clear that the handheld and smartphone versions of this operating system have merged to the point where they are almost the same thing.
In addition, there will continue to be people who want a device even smaller than an Ultra Mobile 2007 device, but larger than a smartphone.
Microsoft has said in the past that it sees there being a continuum of devices — from tiny smartphones to desktops and servers — and it intends to have an operating system available for the entire range.