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Microsoft has developed a product in a steel briefcase which it claims will respond to voice technology and is proof that Microsoft at Work (MAW) is not as dead as people thought. Mark Thompson, a product manager at Microsoft UK, gave members of the British Personal Computer Association (PCA), a sneak preview of the product. It is, as yet, unannounced. The product is part of a package including Auto PC for cars, and Thompson claimed that it plays CDs you ask it to, using voice recognition. However, when Thompson demonstrated it yesterday evening, the female voice which responded at boot time refused to execute any of his commands. Thompson said: "One potential idea is to combine everything in one box with nothing to plug in." He said: "The original idea of MAW was that it would diversify into every every market. Perhaps it's just as well it never really took off." Thompson also hit out at Windows NT. "NT is a difficult OS to embed because of its bulk and size." He said: "You'll see embedded 3.1 DOS in hospitals." He did not say whether Microsoft DOS 3.1 is Year 2000 compliant. He disclosed that Microsoft was making leaps and jumps to make sure the new technology worked, courtesy of Windows CE. He said: "Psion had great success [with small devices]. And so did Palm Pilot." He predicted that Microsoft would also have similar success when it launched its palm product in colour. However, he admitted: "CE doesn't stand for anything." We have a photo -- it will appear in this story tomorrow. ®

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