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HP's Windows CE-based Palmtop PCQ: I was a little surprised to see HP's announcement about a future Windows CE-based handheld. HP normally does not discuss a new product unless it is ready to ship. Why did HP decided to make the announcement early?
A: Windows CE represents a significant change in the market for Palmtop PCs. To assure that our existing 200LX customers have time to understand the impact of this change, we decided to give an advanced preview of the technology. It is our belief that for many people, the HP 200LX will remain the best solution. The advance announcement helps clarify, at the earliest date possible, the distinction between 200LX and Windows CE-based handhelds. Q: Why did HP choose Windows CE as the operating system for a new handheld?
A: The office desktop today is dominated by Microsoft Windows. One of the key strengths of the HP Palmtop PC is its ability to integrate into the office PC environment and share information. Windows CE is an excellent system, not only to share that information, but also to work with, since it looks and feels just like the PC on your desktop.
Q: What details can you give us about this HP Windows CE machine?
A: The most important detail is the display. While we support everything that Windows CE has to offer, the original display standard from Microsoft (which will be used by all other Windows CE handheld manufacturers) was just not large enough to work with word processing, spreadsheet, e-mail or web-based information. We have exclusively designed a display that is one-third wider than all of the other Palmtop PCs with Windows CE, so that you can work with PC information in the same format that you see on a full-sized PC.
Q: Can you elaborate on the advantages of Windows CE?
A: There are three key advantages to Windows CE. First, since it operates the same as the Windows on your PC, there is very little to learn. You know how to use it already. Second, the included applications are extensions of what you already use on your PC. You do not have to change formats to share information. And finally, Windows CE automatically synchronizes your appointments, phone book and task list with the PC. That means there is an automatic update of information. For example, if you have made changes to your appointment book on your desktop PC, the Windows CE unit will be instantly updated as soon as it is connected to the PC. There is not even a button to push to make it happen.
Q: How important is PC Connectivity?
A: Business people today use their PCs as the central information source for their operations. They would like to be able to walk away from their desk with this information. PC connectivity is essential to enable this. Although the Palmtop PC is a wonderful device by itself, it really shines when it is able to carry PC information anywhere and keep it up-to-date.
Q. I have heard conflicting statements about Windows NT. Will the new HP machine be compatible with Windows NT 4.0?
A. Today Windows CE connects to, and synchronizes with, PCs with the Windows 95 operating system. At HP we believe that many customers will want to work with Windows NT. Microsoft has worked with us to update the Windows CE software so that it will connect back to a PC with Windows NT 4.0 at the time the new HP Palmtop PC is available.
Q. HP has pioneered and led the handheld industry for many years. Will HP take advantage of any of the technologies it developed in its new Windows CE offering? In particular, what about HP Calc (invented by the HP developers of the handheld calculator), the strong 200LX database engine, the OmniGo organizer flip-over hinge and graffiti, the sticky shift key?
A: While we cannot comment on products that may, or may not be in development, we will be announcing additional capabilities for our new Palmtop PC with Windows CE over the next couple of months.
Q: How will you differentiate your product in terms of features and target market from your competitors?
A: I can't speak for our competitors in the area of target market. We will be focused on the needs of business professionals. The display clearly differentiates the product. Over the coming months we will be talking more about some of the other finer points we have designed into the new Palmtop PC based on our experience.
Q: How would you describe the HP 200LX user as opposed to the HP Windows CE user?
A: Both are people who want to carry up-to-date information with them anywhere. The main difference is the operating system they have on their PCs. In both cases the users of an HP Palmtop PC will have a device that shows more information, and runs more software, than any other product you can hold in your hand.
Q: What will the announcement do to Palmtop sales? Should prospective 200LX buyers wait?
A: If the HP 200LX is the right product for you today, it will be the right product for you tomorrow. Nothing about Windows CE will make the 200LX any less capable. In addition, if you use Windows 3.1 or MS-DOS on you desktop PC, the HP 200LX is the right product for you.
Q: Certainly a large percentage of HP 95/100/200LX users will move up to the newest product. How easy will it be to transfer data, particularly from PHONE and DATABASE with their many data fields.
A: Just as a large percentage of DOS and Windows users have moved to Windows 95, so we expect many Palmtop users will move to the new product. To make this painless, we are including software that transfers your Phone Book and Appointment Book to the new Palmtop PC. There is nothing extra to buy and no manual effort required.
Q. A lot of HP 200LX users are concerned with the lack of a numeric keypad in the new Windows CE devices. What made you choose a wider alpha keyboard and embedded numeric keypad rather than stand-alone numeric keypad? Is there a chance that you will offer a model with a numeric keypad to satisfy your traditional engineering-base of customers?
While there are certainly customers who prefer having a numeric keypad, the vast majority desire the larger key spacing and key tops. This is true of the market in general, as well as with existing HP 200LX customers. The embedded numeric keypad in the new HP Palmtop PC is the only one in the Windows CE market. It makes entry of phone numbers and addresses much easier than it would be with only the top row keys. Q: Microsoft was unsuccessful with WinPad, its first attempt at a Windows-like Palmtop operating system. Did HP work closely with Microsoft in the development of Windows CE? Can you discuss some of HP's input and requirements?
A: HP and Microsoft have a very close relationship in the development of technologies used in Palmtop PCs. Our experience over the past five years as a pioneer and leader in the Palmtop PC market has been a significant influence on the development of Windows CE. In addition, we are delivering the wide display that is essential to make these products true PC companions.
Q: What should we call these things PDA's, organizers, handheld computers or what?
A: We call them 'Palmtop PCs'. They fit in your hand conveniently and deliver all the best aspects of the PC.
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