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Windows CE for real time

Microsoft will incorporate "real-time" capabilities into its slimmed-down Windows OS, another step toward expanding its scope.

    Microsoft (MSFT) announced it will incorporate "real-time" capabilities into its Windows CE operating system, another step toward expanding CE's scope beyond personal computers.

    By the second quarter of 1999, Windows CE will be upgraded to operate more quickly when used with certain niche applications, the company stated in conjunction with a developer's conference in San Jose, California. Right now, the operating system doesn't respond to user commands fast enough to fall within the strict parameter known as real time.

    The upgrade is intended to increase CE's use in industrial controls, point-of-sale devices, and consumer appliances, all bigger markets than the PC segment. Its present lack of real-time capabilities has been cited by analysts as one reason CE hasn't made more inroads into the lucrative field of next-generation digital TV set-top boxes, which will not only be capable of delivering programming but also Web access and e-commerce.

    For instance, while it has licensed Windows CE, Tele-Communications, Incorporated (TCI) is also expected to use system software from Sony and Sun, as reported by CNET's NEWS.COM. "TCI is increasingly interested in a real-time operating system [from Sun and Sony]. They are better for telephony and gaming because of latency issues," Michael Harris, president of Kinetic Strategies, said in an earlier interview.

    "Our goal is to create faster response time that will allow greater numbers of embedded developers to take advantage of...Windows CE as they begin to build the next generation of information devices," said Harel Kodesh, general manager of Microsoft's consumer appliances group.