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January 17, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:32pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Psion Plc still commands about one third of the handheld computer market but, faced with the threat from Microsoft Corp’s new Windows CE, the company is not about to start resting on its laurels. The jury is still very much out on whether Windows CE will turn out to be Bob for hand-helds, Microsoft at Work at play, or another Windows NT, which was regarded as an abject failure for its first couple of years, but even if Psion wanted to hang around to find out, it can’t afford the luxury, because if Windows CE does turn out to be Newton on Mogadon, there are plenty of other companies plotting to steal a slice of Psion’s thunder. As we have reported, for its next trick, Psion is working on a 32-bit operating system that will run on just about the cheapest repository of copious, manageable computer power, the Advanced RISC Machines Ltd ARM RISC family. The forthcoming executive, EPOC/32, has just picked up the extension it needs to support all those desktop Windows applications, the one area where Microsoft Corp overwhelmingly dominates the world. Psion’s Psion Software Plc has taken the trip down to Coral Gables, Florida to have a quiet word with Citrix Systems Inc, and has come away with a definitive licensing agreement that allows it to use the Citrix ICA distributed Windows protocol in the EPOC/32 operating system. Psion Software, formed to license both the existing EPOC/16 for 8086-compatible processors and the forthcoming EPOC/32 to third parties (CI No 2,956), intends to license the ICA client for EPOC/32 on to Psion Computers Plc and to external licensees for development of future personal communicators, smart phones, intelligent terminals and mobile Web browsers aimed at the corporate marketplace. Citrix is satisfied that the ICA protocol within EPOC/32 should lead to a new era of sub-compact wireless computing devices capable of running 32-bit Windows applications in conjunction with Citrix’s WinFrame multi- user application server software. The ICA client is designed to enable users to run 32-bit Windows and client-server applications with local network-like performance over a variety of mobile networks, dial-up phone lines and local networks. The ICA protocol has already been licensed by Microsoft, Sun Microsystems Inc, Wyse Technology Inc, Boundless Technologies Inc, VXL Instruments Inc, HDS Network Systems Inc, Tektronix Inc, Insignia Solutions Plc, Network Computing Devices Inc, Telxon Corp, and Plexcom Inc for inclusion in new and future hardware and software products. Psion has decided not to keep EPOC/32 all to itself but to offer the ROM-based operating system on a licensed basis to others wanting to build powerful mobile devices. EPOC/32 is described as a fully multi-tasking 32-bit executive supporting a pen-based graphical user interface and full networking capabilities, but it is component-based so that it can be scaled from relatively large configurations for use on a fully- functional hand-held computer, down to skinny configurations for embedded applications.

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