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Gates to unveil Windows Mobile update

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates plans to announce an update to the company's operating system for handhelds and cell phones. The new OS will sport a couple Palm-like features.

Microsoft plans to formally announce later Wednesday an update to Windows Mobile, the company's operating system for handhelds and cell phones.

As previously reported, the Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition update adds support for higher-resolution Video Graphics Array displays. The new software also allows for devices that can quickly shift from landscape to portrait mode. Microsoft is also adding support for square screen sizes, a move that mimics the approach of the rival Palm operating system and paves the way for smaller devices that incorporate a keyboard.

The company has tweaked its pocket Internet Explorer browser to allow Web pages to be read in a single column, eliminating the need for horizontal scrolling--a feature that's also reminiscent of Palm-based devices.

"We continue to learn from both our customers and our competitors," said Ed Suwanjindar, Microsoft lead product manager. "We definitely strive to both set the standard and meet the standard that's out there."

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is set to unveil the software during a keynote speech in San Francisco. Gates will address a combined audience made up of people attending the VSLive show, the Microsoft Mobile Developer Conference and the Applied Voice Input/Output Society SpeechTek Spring 2004 confab.

In addition to the Windows Mobile announcement, Gates will also introduce a "Community Technical Preview" version of the company's forthcoming Visual Studio 2005 developer software. A final version of the product, formerly code-named Whidbey, was originally set to ship later this year but has been delayed until 2005.