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Microsoft To Bow Pocket PC Format During First Half

Microsoft announced at CES it will release later this half a next-generation Windows CE operating system for the Palm-size PC and will change the name of that format to Pocket PC.

Marketing manager Brian Shafer said the name change "will eliminate a little bit of confusion with the Palm platform as both companies are using the name Palm."

The new Pocket PCs will add two main features to the current Windows CE platform: a Windows Media Player with MP3 capability and e-book capability via Microsoft Reader.

Microsoft Reader allows users to buy and download books in text from a new Barnes & Noble Web site for on-the-go reading on the Pocket PC.

In addition, the device features Audible technology so at any time the reader can switch from text to voice-read literature. Microsoft also includes a technology called ClearType, which smoothes the edges of printed text to appear clearer or less pixelized.

Microsoft's Windows Media player will allow users to play back one hour of MP3 music on a 64MB CompactFlash card or two hours in the Windows Media format. A Windows Media free software upgrade will be available in February for current Palm-size PCs.