Microsoft, whose share of the handheld operating system market has never strayed too far past 10 percent, hopes to make an end-run around Palm handheld lovers with a revamped Pocket PC 2002 that appeals to the businesses that employ those lovers. This latest Pocket PC version includes enterprise-oriented features designed to prompt security-conscious network professionals to standardize companywide on the OS.
Corporate network access is the jumping-off point. Thinking beyond the sync cradle, on-the-go entrepreneurs can connect to business files through wireless access points with an add-on wireless modem. Built-in Virtual Private Networking (VPN) takes care of security anxieties; improved password handling and better support for antivirus software round out the capabilities.
Naturally, the visual experience and user interface of the new OS closely mirror Microsoft's new Windows XP. But it all requires more processing power and memory, pushing hardware prices to $400 and above. Case in point: Hewlett-Packard's release of the Jornada 565 sporting Pocket PC 2002 goes for $599 (street).
Right to the Source
A new way to get business tech solutions is coming down the line: e-sourcing. Web-based e-sourcing follows a utility model for providing IT services. You pay according to how much you use, just like you do with electricity or gas.
E-sourcing can encompass many products and services, but some areas to keep an eye on are Web hosting, data storage and network services. The incentives for all this are cost savings and not having to second-guess the amount of resources your business might need.
IBM is busy on the e-sourcing front lines, rolling out an e-sourcing data storage option called Managed Storage Services. Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard have also made motions in this direction. Initial offerings target larger corporations, but e-sourcing should come into its own in the next few years and start to make money-saving propositions for growing businesses.