Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Microsoft, HP Show Path to PC Renaissance

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Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard snuggled
up to each other Tuesday, using their already close partnership to show
manufacturers a new future in PC manufacturing where vendors work with
Microsoft from the ground up when developing new PC technologies.

The result is “Athens,” a PC prototype which takes a page from Apple
Computer’s book with deep integration of hardware and
software designed around the end-user experience.

“The hardware industry and Microsoft are leading the next wave of PC
development by creating unprecedented levels of synergy between hardware
and software,” said Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill
Gates during his keynote at the 12th annual Windows Hardware Engineering
Conference (WinHEC) in New Orleans. “The result will be innovative products
that improve the way our customers work, communicate, learn and are
entertained. The ‘Athens’ PC prototype is just one example of the amazing
things that are possible when hardware and software companies collaborate
deeply on new designs.”

Co-developed with HP, Athens is an effort to converge communications —
like voice, video and text messaging — into a consistent, streamlined
design which makes Windows-based machines easier to navigate while
eliminating hiccups.

Athens features integrated telephony functionality with a wireless handset
and headset that form a centralized communications unit; a wide, high-DPI
flat panel display intended to make working with multiple documents on the
screen more comfortable; more consistent system controls; and improvements
like quite operation, “appliance-like availability,” and high quality

The machine’s media and device ports, as well as disk drives, are all
positioned on the display, where they are easy to access, while a single
cable serves up power and data to the screen. Athens also features a
wireless mouse and wireless keyboard.

“In a world where technology is increasingly commoditizing, the need for
innovation that solves real business problems and creates a richer customer
experience is stronger than ever,” said Carly Fiorina, chairman and CEO of
HP. “Just as we did with the Tablet PC and the Media Center PC, HP and
Microsoft are creating a new standard of joint innovation in hardware,
software and product design. The Athens prototype PC will empower business
customers with an entirely new class of business technology that provides a
seamless and natural experience for communications and collaboration.”

Gates also held up a new set of cross-product navigation controls,
code-named “Xeel,” as an example of the fruit that deep integration between
hardware and software can bear. Xeel, which aims to build on the navigation
innovations of the mouse wheel, is a cluster of hardware components and
software interactions which are intended to simplify content navigation and
work consistently across Windows-based devices, from Tablet PCs and Pocket
PCs to Windows Powered Smartphones, Windows Powered Smart Displays, and the
new Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT).

Gates also used his keynote to announce new pricing and packaging for
Windows CE .NET 4.2, the company’s embedded operating system, in an effort
to make it more suitable for low-cost commercial and consumer devices. The
new license, Windows CE .NET Core, is available for an estimated retail
price of $3. Gates said the company has also made a free, noncommercial
distribution license for the operating system available. That license is
intended to help embedded partners, developers and device manufacturers
share device images.

“Smart, connected devices are playing an increasingly significant role in
everyday life and are a key part of our ‘Digital Decade’ vision,” Gates
said. “Our new low-cost Windows CE .NET Core license is a rich platform
that enables manufacturers and developers to quickly utilize Windows CE
across a broad range of these devices, and our free noncommercial license
and tools will help foster innovation.”

Intended for low-cost devices like gateways, entry-level VoIP phones,
industrial automation equipment and consumer electronic devices like CD
players, digital cameras and networked DVD players, Windows CE .NET 4.2
Core features a real-time operating system kernel, file system, networking
and communications technologies, multimedia capabilities and an application
development platform.

The Windows CE .NET 4.2 Professional license, geared for devices with a
richer user interface like set-top boxes, advanced VoIP devices, handhelds
and digital media players, includes value-added components like Windows
Messenger, WordPad, the Remote Desktop Protocol and Internet Explorer 6.
Additionally, those who purchase a professional license can obtain viewers
for Office documents like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF and image viewers
for an additional cost.

The noncommercial distribution license is included in the free Windows CE
.NET 4.2 Emulation Edition and Evaluation Kit. It includes the full
Platform Builder tool and complete operating system components

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