The day before the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Microsoft Corporation announced the Windows CE 2.0-based "Palm PC", a dead-ringer for the 3Com PalmPilot that will be sold by several manufacturers. Philips, Samsung, LG Electronics, Casio, Everex Systems, Palmax Technology, and Uniden all announced plans to support the Palm PC. Hewlett Packard and NEC also have Palm PCs in development, but the companies weren't ready for to announce products in time for CES.

Microsoft's Craig Mundie says the Palm PC is designed to be easier to use than traditional PCs, while fitting in the palm of your hand. Input comes to the system via a stylus or some simple buttons on the device itself. The Palm PC is aimed at mobile corporate workers who need remote access to the Internet or office email via a pager-like device.

"We will also see people in their personal lives begin to use them," he said. "At the end of the day they'll be used just about anywhere."

He must be referring to another day, or perhaps to the 3Com PalmPilot, which is, in fact, everywhere. The Palm PC is clearly a rip-off of the Palm Pilot form factor.

Palm PCs will feature 2-8MB of RAM, 6MB of ROM, a 32-bit processor, a screen of up to 240x320 pixels, two-way infrared support, a serial port, and a small set of user-configurable buttons. Paging capabilities can be added via a "Compact Flash" slot. Palm PCs will ship with Microsoft Windows CE 2.0, Pocket Outlook (a personal information manager), Pocket Internet Explorer, and handwriting recognition capabilities. Also bundled is software to move files to the PC and back, as well as a voice recorder.

The initial crop of Palm PCs are overpriced at $399 to $599, but expect the prices to drop as competition with the PalmPilot begins.

For more information about Palm PCs, please visit the Microsoft Palm PC homepage