December 13, 1996 11:00 AM ET

Microsoft explores 'smart' options for Windows CE

By Mark Moore

  With a new wave of smart pagers and smart phones due in 1997, Microsoft Corp. is gauging interest in a subset of Windows CE.

The company has been holding discussions with NEC America Inc., Sony Corp. and others about using a scaled-down version of the Windows CE (consumer electronics) operating system-code-named Gryphon-in smart pagers next year, said sources close to Microsoft.

The efforts are designed to increase the appeal of intelligent communicators, which combine two-way wireless voice and/or data communications, including Internet access, with contact management applications.

Microsoft's Gryphon is targeted at devices that are smaller than the handheld PCs based on the current Windows CE iteration. But sources said Gryphon, which reportedly takes up less than 1M byte of RAM, is not expected until late next year.

"There's a lot of talk going on right now, but it's just talk at this point," said one source, who requested anonymity.

Microsoft officials in Redmond, Wash., declined to comment, other than to say that Windows CE is appropriate for a variety of non-PC devices.

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