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October 27, 1999

Microsoft to Reshape CE User Interface Through Vadem Deal?

By CBR Staff Writer

Microsoft Corp has taken another step in trying to improve the user interface of the Windows CE operating system by licensing handwriting recognition software from Vadem Corp. This is likely to be integrated into future versions of OS, although Microsoft say it is too early to speculate on what products will result from the alliance. Microsoft has taken an undisclosed stake in the San Jose, California-based manufacturer of the Clio ‘PC companion’ and says that it will help the firm speed its development of future CE-based products.

Microsoft is licensing CalliGrapher software from Vadem division, ParaGraph, which allows users of the companies Clio machines to write directly onto a tablet-style screen. The company currently offers the software in a bundle with the PC companion. I’m sure they’re considering using CalliGrapher as an input solution for a number of products, said a Vadem spokesperson. One of the reasons that CE devices have lost out against handhelds based on the competing PalmOS is that Palm PDAs offer a simple, uniform pen-based interface. A more user-friendly interface on CE may tempt users to take a second look at Microsoft’s Windows-derived offering. However, how well an onscreen writing based system would translate to smaller Palm-style devices remains to be seen.

Vadem has just introduced new version of the Clio, the C-1050, which has an increased 32Mb of memory and a more powerful NEC MIPS processor than its predecessor. Curiously, however, the new Clio, which retails at $999, has 10 hours of battery life, two hours less than its older sibling. Var refused to reveal what new products Microsoft as working Vadem with, saying: Vadem and [Microsoft] are not revealing any financial details surrounding the agreement… Vadem is a privately held company and does not discuss financial information, future business or product plans.

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