Casio launches Windows CE software operation

Today, handhelds -- tomorrow, the world...

Casio has formed a separate company to develop Windows CE applications and begun shipping three titles for the handheld PC platform. The new organisation, called CasioSoft, will initially develop business-oriented applications. Its initial offerings, CSI Project, CSI Outliner and CSI PowerPack, offer additional features for the CE version of Microsoft Project, agenda and lists management tools, and file management utilities, respectively. However, CasioSoft product manager Brad Nemer admitted the company may look to other markets too. "It's conceivable there could be other products beyond what exists now," he said. "We could write applications for WebTV on Windows CE even if Casio doesn't make one. We're interested in wherever the market goes -- auto PCs, phones, watches, whatever." CasioSoft will certainly provide a boost for Windows CE devices, which has attracted fewer ISVs than rival palmtop platforms Palm and Psion. Casio's own CE machine, the consumer-oriented Cassiopeia, suffers from just such a paucity of third-party apps. However, Casio's move is likely to prove more important in the long run. CE has yet to prove itself as a handheld PC platform, but it's more interesting when seen as the basis for other devices. Sega's decision to base its DreamCast games console on CE puts the OS into a far wider world than the one Palm -- or Epson's EPOC, for that matter -- currently inhabits. EPOC is clearly moving toward the intelligent cellphone market, as is Palm, but the games business is potentially more lucrative. And not just games -- DreamCast's use of CE provides it with sufficient comms infrastructure to provide users with Internet access. It's kind of like Apple's ill-fated Pippin project, but coming from the other direction, extending the games market with extra functionality rather than attempting to sell a games console to people who already own a PC. In any case, for CasioSoft, the expertise it gets developing and marketing consumer CE software now could help it later when DreamCast, which is projected to be well ahead of current consoles, ships. DreamCast is unlikely to stimulate wider demand for Windows CE per se, but it will increase demand for developers with CE experience. ® Click for more stories

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