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Microsoft's Mira joins the CE family

Although devices using Mira technology are still a few months from hitting shelves, the software giant says it has a name for the software that will power Web-surfing tablets.

Although devices using Microsoft's Mira technology are still a few months from hitting shelves, the software giant said Wednesday that it has settled on its name for the software that will power the Web-surfing tablets.

Microsoft says that the software technology previously known as Mira will now be known as Windows CE for Smart Displays. The tablet devices themselves will be known as Windows-powered smart displays.

Mira, which was first unveiled in January, lets LCD screens act as a portable screen in conjunction with a nearby desktop computer, enabling people with the device to surf the Web or play music that is stored on the desktop PC. The devices themselves run software based on Microsoft's Windows CE.Net operating system, while such tablets require an 802.11b wireless connection to a nearby PC running Windows XP Professional.

That's because Mira devices take advantage of the terminal server features that are in XP Pro but not the home edition of Windows XP. Microsoft has not decided whether people who have XP Home Edition will have to pay for the software upgrade in addition to the cost of buying the Mira device itself.

So far 15 makers have committed to making devices using Windows CE for Smart Displays, based on screens ranging from as small as 6 inches to as large as 15 inches. The devices are expected to range in price from about $500 to $800 depending on screen size.

Microsoft said the devices will be available in North America and Asia in time for this year's holiday season and in Europe in the first half of next year. Initially Microsoft says it will offer support for five languages: English, French, German, Japanese and Korean.