Well, this week is going just fine.  I'm testing more products, and I've almost got some more reviews ready to post.  So pay attention!

But that's not my reason for writing today.  No, today, I have a much more serious topic to discuss.  What is it?  Well, quite frankly, it's the deplorable manner in which potential palmtop buyers are being deceived and misled by manufacturers and industry publications.   You may be wondering what I'm talking about.

Yesterday I was reading my new issue of PC Computing magazine, a fine publication put out by Ziff-Davis.  They had the usual slate of reviews on computers, hardware, software, laptops... and a page dedicated to handheld PC's.  They had blurbs on their favorite WinCE machine (the Velo 1), the Pilot, and the Psion.  Or maybe it was the Zaurus.  Well, no matter.  In any case, they completely ignored the 200LX, which doesn't surprise me.  But THEN, at the beginning of the paragraph about the WinCE machines, they said, AND I QUOTE:

    Windows CE (which is 100% compatible with Windows 95 because they're based on the same operating system)...  

Well!  That just blew me away.  I'm used to ordinary people having misconceptions about Windows CE, of course.  You can hardly help it, with all the false advertising and phrase twisting that's going on.  But a highly respected publication like PC Computing!

There are two reasons I find fault with this statement.  Let's do this analytically.

Part I: "Windows CE... is 100% compatible with Windows 95"

This has to be the most idiotic statement about Windows CE I've seen in a long time.  Normally, for two operating systems to be compatible, they have to run the same software.  Can Windows CE run the same software as Windows 95?  Absolutely not.  Go ahead, give it a try!  You'll find out.  Windows CE doesn't even claim to be able to run the same software.  So what is this "100% compatible" stuff?  Perhaps a demonstration will help me to get my point across:

Boss: Charlie, I noticed that yesterday you decided to take the day off and sent your cat Fluffy in instead.
Charlie: Yeah, so, what's the problem?
Boss: Well, uh, there's no problem, Charlie, it's just that I'm not sure that a cat can handle the responsibility of air-traffic control...
Charlie: Come on, me and my cat are 100% compatible.
Boss: What?
Charlie: You heard me, we're 100% compatible.  We're both carbon-based, we both have hair, and we both eat food, right?
Boss: Well, yes, I suppose that--
Charlie: Then get off my back!

Obviously this example is a little exaggerated.  But the basic idea is the same.

Part II: "...because they're both based on the same operating system..."

I've spent several hours now pondering this statement, and the more I read it, the less clear it becomes.  What common ancestor operating system do Windows 95 and Windows CE have?  DOS?  Not likely.  Windows 3.1?  Not likely.  I think there must be something far more sinister going on here.  Here's my theory.  Everybody knows about the "UFO crash" at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, right?  Well, in a somewhat similar event...

(Scene: a dark alley, Seattle, 1989.  The glowing lights of the Space Needle are visible in the distance.)
(Bill Gates steps out of the shadows wearing a long trenchcoat.  A shady character approaches from the street.)

Shady Character: Did you bring the stuff?
Bill Gates: Yeah, I got the stuff if you got the money.
Shady Character: I got the money.
(He removes a roll of bills from his pocket and hands them to Bill.  At that moment, there is a flash of light and a crash.  A saucer-shaped craft has crashed into the alley behind them.)
Shady Character: What the-- I'm getting out of here!
(He runs off.  Bill, fascinated, takes a closer look.)
Bill: I wonder what this could be--
(At that moment, an alien hand pops out of a crack in the hull, tossing a box at Bill's feet.  Then it slumps lifeless.  Seconds later, the craft turns white hot and vaporizes.)
Bill: Hmm.  That was interesting.
(He picks up the box at his feet.  Written in a strange alien script are the words, "Windows 29135."
Bill: Hey, I bet if we tinker with this long enough, we could make a marketable product out of it...
(Chuckling, he steps back into the shadows.)  

Obviously, Microsoft engineers studied the alien operating system and modified it for whatever project they were currently working on.  That's the only way I can see that Windows 95 and Windows CE could be based on the same operating system.

Okay, I think that's about all I have to say today.

Copyright 1999, David Sargeant.
Last Updated 1-2-1999

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