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The CE Palmtop is not a PC

The CE Palmtop is not a PC

I read the User-to-User article in Vol. 5, No. 6, 1996 (page 6) with mounting disappointment. So Microsoft wants the new Windows CE-based palmtops to be called "H/PCs," i.e. "Handheld PCs." This is a misnomer. Handheld they may be, PCs they are not.

It transpires that Windows CE, though possessing the look and feel of Windows 95, is basically incompatible with it. It cannot run either Windows 3.x or Windows 95 software. All software will have to be specially written for, or ported to, Windows CE machines, and is likely to consist of severely cut down versions of familiar Windows packages (judging by "Pocket Word" and "Pocket Excel"). Worse still, it cannot run DOS software, like the HP LX series can, and data compatibility is apparently confined to Windows 95.

In short, we have here yet another operating system which is exclusive to handheld machines and is incompatible with any existing desktop PC. The advantage which sets the HP 100/200LX apart from all other handheld machines (and is its unique selling point) is thrown away.

So what can you do with Windows CE that you cannot do with an HP 200LX? Not much that I can see! Internet Access? The 200LX does that. Windows look and feel? System Manager-Compliant and PAL applications do a creditable emulation of that. The only "gain" appears to be the Win 95 look and feel, and long filename support. All other functionality is already available on the HP 200LX! It would probably be possible to emulate the Win 95 look and feel with PAL, and many of the PAL applications now becoming available are at least as good as "Pocket Word" or "Pocket Excel."

I cannot believe that Windows CE is the way forward! Surely HP should seek to build on the technical success of the HP 100/200LX by producing a PC AT-based successor with a 486 or better class processor and lots more RAM and a VGA display. Such a machine could run DOS, Win 3.x, or even a minimum installation of Win 95, and possibly even Windows CE, for those who wish to use it. This is certainly the kind of machine I require. Insofar as the HP 100/200LX has a weakness, it is its lack of speed and XT architecture.

Jerome V. Healy

iPhone Life magazine


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