Microsoft puts the boot into Palm

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Microsoft puts the boot into Palm Monday 3rd September 2001 by Jack Of Hearts Hot on the heels of cautious statements and radical restructuring at Palm, Microsoft has leaked its plans for an all out assault on the PDA marketplace. Palm simply must be concerned. Although the plans won’t be officially revealed until later this week, Microsoft has made it plain that this year will mark the start of a serious battle for the handheld market. The announcements concern the PocketPC operating system, which Microsoft is about to revise with a couple of additions – one for the top-end and one for the low-end. Code-named Merlin, the operating system comes with a few nice additions including the much hyped 802.11b wireless standard, which will significantly boost the OS’s wireless networking potential. It is rumoured that the new versions of the OS are very much XP based, looking like it on the desktop and behaving like it in the users hands, but quite how much of an upgrade they will be is as yet unclear. According to reports on News.com the OS could be either an incremental upgrade or a major upheaval. Our own sources, however, suggest that the latter is more likely and that’s news Palm can well do without. The big battle that is going to dominate the on-going war in the PDA space has not actually started yet, despite what you might think. The real issue for PDAs is not how many techies are using their kit, but rather how many corporates are actually buying them for a team or department. Right now of, course, the number is incredibly low. Recent reports suggested that very few companies had bought a batch of 60 PDAs, that would signify a corporate purchase, which would demonstrate that PDAs were finally on the business technology agenda. As yet that hasn’t happened and this is where Microsoft is trying to muscle in. With its ubiquitous operating system already dominating the desktop, the next release of PocketPC, the Merlin release, is expected to feature greater integration and greater functionality. It has, as we’ve already mentioned, already got the XP look and feel, so making the desktop and PDA fit together was always going to be the next step. ‘Microsoft has the marketing clout to knock even Coca-Cola out of an office. If it turns its sights onto major accounts, Palm could find itself with nowhere to go.’ The question is though, assuming Microsoft manages to get all of those pieces in place, what does this mean for Palm?. To be honest it’s a difficult question. The company undoubtedly looks under threat from the Redmond monster if only because Microsoft is already the business platform, whilst Palm still teeters on the edge of enthusiasts and business users. Further to that, Microsoft also has the marketing clout to knock even Coca-Cola out of an office. And if it turns its sights onto major accounts, Palm could find itself with nowhere to go. But that doesn’t mean the war is over. Palm hasn’t risen to the upper echelons of the PDA space by slouching around. And we don’t really know what Microsoft is going to release yet either. So perhaps we’ve got another six to twelve months, at least until the next Windows CE OS emerges, before the battle really shifts into full swing. Still, this should all add up to an interesting close for 2001. Website link: it-analysis.com

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