Next week, Microsoft will host its Windows CE developer's conference where it will outline directions it is taking with Windows CE 2.0. Additionally, Microsoft will demonstrate a wallet-sized computer and an onboard automobile device that run CE. The wallet-sized system--code-named "Gryphon"--will make its public debut at Spring Comdex next month in Atlanta. The automobile device--code-named "Apollo"--has a speech-based user interface. Both devices use version 2.0 of Windows CE, which is due later this year.

Casio, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, NEC and Philips all manufacture Windows CE 1.x-based devices and these same companies are expected to announce CE 2.0 devices--including Apollo and Gryphon devices--within the next two months. Current users of Windows CE devices will be happy to hear that they can upgrade to 2.0 although it's primary goal is to open the OS to other form factors. Windows CE 2.0 will support 24-bit color, DirectX, ActiveX, and COM. It will ship with Internet Explorer 4.0, and new versions of its bundled personal information software and personal office applications as well.

Windows CE will support Visual Basic and Java software development in addition to the Visual C++ 4.2/5.0-based development already available. Conference attendees will receive an advance version of the ActiveX control development kit for Windows CE 2.0.

Microsoft expects to have Windows CE 2.0 running on WebTV by the end of 1997. Additionally, Windows CE will be used as the operating system in the Windows Terminal machines