Handheld computers--formerly known as PDAs, or "personal digital assistants"--are making a comeback this year, after years of languishing with the Apple Newton. The reason? Huge sales successes for the USR Palm Pilot and Microsoft's Windows CE. Windows CE machines have sold well above expectations and forthcoming models will sport 24-bit color displays, multimedia enhancements, and a variety of form factors. Furthermore, CE is tied to a wide variety of chipsets, most of which were custom-designed specifically for the new Microsoft OS.

Microsoft's "Gryphon" architecture, for example, will run Windows CE 2.0, due this fall, and compete directly with the PalmPilot. Gryphon devices will operate with 2MB of RAM and 4MB of ROM in a package that fits in the palm of your hand. It will be controlled with a pen-like stylus. Other CE 2.0 specifications include "Mercury," for car-based navigation systems and "Livingston," for sub-notebook class machines with hard drives and VGA displays.

New devices based on Windows CE 2.0 will debut at Fall Comdex in November, exactly a year after the launch of Windows CE 1.0