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Microsoft is to launch its next rev of Windows CE pocket computer, now dubbed 'Windows-powered' Pocket Pcs, before the middle of the year, company mobile device division marketing manager Brian Shafer said at CeBIT yesterday. Shagfer demoed a unit produced by Siemens and Casio with integrated GSM and running Pocket Internet Explorer, which was also unveiled yesterday, although like Pocket PC it had been well-telegraphed. Siemens and Casio both have a long-term commitment to the operating system formerly known as CE, and Casio more recently has struck an alliance with Vodafone to provide all-singing, all-dancing multimedia PDA-phone handset units. Pocket PCs are also to be shipped by Compaq, HP and Symbol Technologies. Shafer also provided some hints about the future direction of Microsoft's OS strategy by indicating that Microsoft was investigating the possibility of producing games for Pocket PC. Aside from mobile telephony the new version of the platform is being aimed at mobile audio and digital books, so it's multimedia capabilities have to be rather more advanced than previously. This possibly provides some overlap between Microsoft's plans for CE-based MSN terminals and the fabled Microsoft X-Box games machine - we'll see. ® CeBIT 2000: Full Coverage

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