Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) based on Intel's Centrino Atom chip package will be available with Microsoft's Windows operating system in addition to Linux, according to the chip maker.
"The platform is going to be enabled for both Windows XP and Windows Vista," said Gary Willihnganz, director of marketing at Intel's Ultra Mobility Group.
MID is the name that Intel has given to handheld devices based on Centrino Atom that are expected to be produced in a range of form factors, with many using touch screens or slide-out keyboards. The devices, which are being showcased at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Shanghai, are seen as a way for users to access the Internet and play media files when they are on the move.
Intel showed off four prototype MIDs at a news conference in Tokyo Wednesday although precise details about the computers were lacking.
The machines included a Centrino Atom version of Fujitsu's previously launched Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) and an Atom-based Panasonic Toughbook tablet PC. Also on show were two MIDs that were first unveiled at CES in Las Vegas in January: a mobile navigation device from Clarion and a keyless device from Toshiba.
In the past, Intel had said these devices would run Linux and established an effort, called Moblin.org, to develop a version of the open-source software for MIDs. The fruits of that effort include versions of Canonical's Ubuntu and Asianux that are designed for MIDs.
Support for Windows XP on MIDs is particularly noteworthy, because Microsoft plans to stop selling most Windows XP licences on 30 June - around the same time that many MIDs will just be hitting the market. Microsoft's stance on license availability is expected to change over the next few days, according to a source familiar with the situation, who said the company plans to announce extended of Windows XP for certain products, such as low-cost laptops.
Besides Vista and XP, Windows Mobile may also find its way onto these devices some day.
The man appointed to develop a version of Windows Mobile for MIDs is Len Kawell, formerly the CEO of Pepper Computer, who joined Microsoft last month. During the 1980s, Kawell was a founding member of Iris Associates, the company founded by Ray Ozzie, now Microsoft's chief software architect, to develop Lotus Notes. He also has experience with MIDs, as his former company, Pepper, developed a version of Linux for these devices.