Pocket pool, Microsoft style

ZDNet is just one of several sites to have an article covering today's Pocket PC announcement from Microsoft. This is the successor to the Windows CE machines that never really kicked Palm's butt the way MS wanted them to. The article has some details on the new OS as well as the new Pocket PC hardware announced by Compaq, Casio and HP.

In terms of the big changes to the OS itself, Microsoft has apparently changed the GUI from looking like Windows to looking like a browser; do you think this is a subtle way of flipping the bird at the DOJ? I haven't tried one of the things yet, obviously, but offhand I can't imagine a browser interface being any better suited to a handheld than the Windows interface. Rather than copying another desktop interface, why not design one for a handheld? It seems to have worked for Palm.

One question that I didn't see covered is what's up with all the existing CE devices? Can they be upgraded to the new version of the OS, or are they just screwed? I sincerely hope it's not the latter; if so, I would imagine such a move would send CE owners running to Palm on principle, if nothing else.

The price of the things leaves something to be desired, IMHO. A monochrome one from Compaq is $299-- why not just buy a Palm? Color units go from $499 to $599. I'm sure they're much more powerful than even the Palm IIIc, but (gee-whiz factor of having a movie trailer on your handheld aside) how much power do you need in one of these things?

Just to clear the air, yes, I'm a Palm user (Visor, actually). But I'm also a sucker for cool tech; if the Pocket PC steps up to the plate and shows me something that makes it worth the extra cash, assuming the UI doesn't suck this time around, I'll be all over it. But based on what I've seen, I'm not getting that vibe yet.

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