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Transmeta has announced that it's entering the Windows CE business. Just as everyone else is leaving, you might jest.

But the embattled chip start-up hopes that this avenue will give it a new lease of life. Transmeta has exhausted its financiers' patience, and has been told to get profitable by Q4 2003. That's seen 40 per cent of the staff axed already, and the company needs to trim expenses to $20 million from $27 million per quarter to achieve that goal [that's NOT 75 per cent, as we suggested in an earlier draft].

Although all the portable CE devices we know of use ARM-based or Hitachi chips, Transmeta CE support will be using an x86 version of the operating system. I bet you didn't know there was an x86 version of Windows CE. Well, neither did we. But bugger us, if it hasn't been there all along, right back as far as pre-MMX Pentiums.

In a statement, Transmeta said it had worked closely with Microsoft in the development of the TabletPC. We're not sure if this is a clue - Transmeta has scored a win with the FIC Tablet PC, but that's running full blown XP, not CE.

CE, or CE .NET, is used in many more embedded devices than PDAs: Windows dumb terminals, in-flight video screens, petrol pumps - we're always being told it's big in petrol pumps (and Mira - Ed) - and Transmeta can use volumes wherever it can find them. ®

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