We're in a good mood right now. First, Hanson scored a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. As if our world weren't rocked enough, this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas saw the release of Windows CE on two new platforms. The Palm-size PC (P/PC) and the Auto PC are joining the Handheld PC (H/PC) in the PC Companion product line. And Windows CE will also be available for your digital cable set-top box pleasure.
We hope you've stayed tuned to our Windows CE coverage, because there'll be plenty more where that came from. To date, more than half a million H/PCs have shipped with Windows CE. Now Windows CE is poised to become an essential resource in the car.
What is Auto PC? Each manufacturer may innovate, but the following are the standard features that will appear in all Auto PCs powered by Windows CE. Accessed from the speech interface or the single button Start key, the Windows CE Shell will offer the consistency and flavor of the UI we've all grown to love. The Auto PC will be listening for your voice using Advanced Speech Recognition, a speaker-independent speech engine. It will be talking back using Speech Synthesis. The navigation software, Directions, brings the features of Microsoft Expedia Streets to where the pedal meets the metal. You can specify directions by address, intersection, or points of interest. Directions also interfaces with your H/PC, as does the software Address Book. Contact information can be synched and shared among your laptop and the PC Companions via IrDA, USB, and wireless cards.
"MMMBop" couldn't sound better than on the Auto PC's sound system. The voice controlled AM/FM stereo tuner can be preset for up to 20 radio stations (10 AM and 10 FM) and of course also supports direct frequency tuning. The CD Player offers the typical CD player controls and additionally holds up to 250 playlists. Digital Audio controls the surround-sound customization of the 10-band graphic equalizer. Driver and passenger preferences are configured with User Settings. Even how Auto PC talks to you can be controlled. If Microsoft really believes in code reuse, we predict some sort of hideous, Frankenstein-like amalgamation of Barney and Clippit.
Our appetites are whetted for the applications that you will be developing. We see immediate need for VoicePad, a voice activated notepad, if only for taking down the license plate numbers of HOV scofflaws. Virtual Bumper Sticker (Virtual BS) would be useful for sending greetings to the jerk who just almost killed you. Car Maintenance Log will arm you with the facts about a repair before you start arguing with Mel down at the corner Amoco.
Think of the security implications for Auto PC. Wouldn't it be cool never to lock yourself out of your car again? Simply uttering a password (we're going for "LuvUTaylor") will open the doors and start the engine.
Want more info? The next Windows CE Developers Conference is at the San Jose Convention Center on April 6-8, 1998. Sessions will focus on developing apps for the H/PC, P/PC, and Auto PC. To register, visit http://msdn.microsoft.com/embedded/. We certainly will, but only after we claim a spot on the sidewalk outside Radio City Music Hall, where the Grammys will be awarded. Windows CE is swell and all, but Ike, Tay, and Zac come first.