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Microsoft expo to unveil new devices

The software maker will kick off its first developer conference for mobile devices by announcing new devices using its Pocket PC 2002 and Handheld PC OS from Toshiba and HP.

Microsoft on Wednesday will kick off its first developer conference for mobile devices in London by announcing new devices using its Pocket PC 2002 and Handheld PC OS from partners Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard.

The Microsoft Mobility Developer Conference is expected to be an annual event and will give the software giant a chance to tell developers about new programs to help them create and sell applications for handheld and smartphone devices.

More than 1,000 developers are expected to attend the conference to hear about the new devices and details about a new developer program for certifying and delivering applications for devices using Microsoft's Pocket PC 2002 and Smartphone 2002. Microsoft will also present a test version of a collection of Web-based services on mobile devices.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker released its Pocket PC 2002 OS for handhelds last October, and in February announced hardware reference designs to be used with its Smartphone 2002 OS.

Toshiba's device, the Pocket PC e310, will begin shipping April 22 for $399 and will come with 32MB of memory, a Secure Digital expansion slot and will use Intel's 206MHz StrongARM processor. The e310 will weigh about 5 ounces and measure about a half an inch thick.

HP's new Jornada 728 Handheld PC will use Microsoft's Handheld PC OS and will come with 64MB of memory, compared with the previous version that came with 32MB, and will cost $999. It will be available in June.

Microsoft will also announce the creation of Mobile2Market program, which will identify the applications that have been certified by Microsoft as reliable and secure for use on devices using Pocket PC 2002 or Smartphone 2002. Microsoft has created a logo to help identify those applications.

"The program will assist partners by identifying which applications are certified for easy and simple download to Pocket PC and Smartphone devices," Microsoft product manager Ed Suwanjindar said.

Microsoft is aiming to promote the business of creating and selling applications for and around its devices to give consumers more reasons to purchase devices other than for just the capabilities that come with the device. There are more than 10,500 software titles for devices using its operating systems, Sunwanjindar said. The Mobile2Market program is Microsoft's latest effort to encourage the growth of a stronger developer community.

Microsoft will also present developers with a test version of a .Net extension--otherwise recognized as a collection of Web services--for mobile devices that Microsoft is calling the .Net Compact Framework. A final version is expected in the second half of the year.

Developer conferences give OS companies a chance to provide developers with new tools for creating software. Handheld rival Palm has had an annual conference, PalmSource, for its developers for seven years. At its most recent conference, Palm unveiled a beta version of its upcoming OS, version 5, which is due out in its final form this summer.