UnNews:Microsoft developing Windows for phone chips

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6 January 2011

What if, one day, your cell-phone could be infected with the same viruses as your home PC?

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Microsoft confirmed that it is developing a version of Windows for the chips that drive cell phones.

Current versions of the company's signature operating system run only on Intel processors, whereas Apple's hit iPod uses a cell-phone chip to squeeze more than 20 minutes of life out of the battery.

Microsoft made the disclosure to thousands of hung-over purchasing agents at the annual Consumer Electronics show here. But Steve Sinofsky, head of the Windows division, said, "There's a ton of issues to work out, under the hood." The company needs to figure out:

  • How to convince the caller, after activating his account with the carrier, of the need to activate his phone's operating system using the 25-character code from the hologram.
  • After translating the Windows code so callers can run popular programs, who is going to translate them.
  • Who will be the phone's administrator, when a bad config keeps the phone from contacting the network.
  • What to do when the Registry gets cluttered or too many fonts are installed and things slow to a crawl.
  • Whether it will be necessary to press Ctrl-Alt-Del once or twice to recover from the Blue Screen of Death.

Microsoft already makes a product called Windows for hand-held devices. But it's not called Windows because it's Windows, but so that people will buy it.

This venerable old clunker will be reduced to a chip and fit in a cell phone.

In addition, a sizable community is wedded to Unix and wants to see cell phones based on it. "I love my new Razr," said consumer Lyrithya Jones, attending the show, "but there's no way to grep anything!"

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Boston's SCVNGR, a web site with a difference

Elsewhere at the show, Boston web start-up SCVNGR, which last year announced a web site based on the obsolete Digital PDP-8, declared that it will bring to market telephones based on that processor. President Seth Priebatsch said the 0.0012 GHz computer is so anemic that the phone's four D cells may never need recharging. But his company is also grappling with technical issues. "It works fine with ten-digit phone numbers," Mr. Priebatsch insists. They can be entered by merely attaching a TeleType. "Handling sound in real time is the only nut we haven't cracked."