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Windows CE finds home in retail

Microsoft executives in Japan announce that an embedded version of Windows CE will be used in retailer terminals from NTT Data.

    Microsoft executives in Japan announced that an embedded version of Windows CE will be used in retailer terminals from NTT Data, a major step forward for the operating system's adoption in non-PC business applications.

    Windows CE, Microsoft's platform for set-top boxes, handheld devices, and other non-PC appliances, is also embedded in factory machinery and devices that do not require a user interface. Windows CE will also be appearing in devices like Sega's Dreamcast gaming machine and Auto PC in the next year.

    "We have broadened the definition of the devices that use Windows CE," a Microsoft spokesman said, noting that Windows CE terminals from NTT will have no start button or pull down windows. "In retrospect, we may have done the industry a disservice by putting the Windows 95 look and feel on the first generation of devices, because some embedded devices don't even have a UI. The [interface] will probably be transparent."

    Japan will be moving toward a universal debit card system in the next year, and terminals based on Windows CE will be easy to standardize, Microsoft said.

    "They have a need for standardization, and Windows CE was their choice," a Microsoft spokesman said. "Windows CE has been PCMIA compliant from the get-go, and the PCMIA slots in the systems will accomplish the software upgrades."

    Initially, Windows CE terminals from NTT will be used in retail stores, but debit, credit, and ATM terminals based on Windows CE may also be seen in Japan in the next year, Microsoft said.

    NTT's credit card authorization terminals will be based around Windows CE starting in April, Microsoft said.