Microsoft will launch Pocket PC next month, a handheld device aimed at the same market as Palm.

The new Pocket PC, announced in January, runs Version 3.0 of the Windows CE operating system, a new user interface and a larger set of applications. It will start selling on April 19, according to reports.

It will be sold online and through selected vendors at first, for a price that is competitive with the Palm IIIc - Palm's latest colour handheld.
While Palm holds 80 to 90 per cent share of the market, Microsoft aims to snatch some of this with the Pocket PC, and has planned an advertizing campaign and road tour.

Phil Holden, Microsoft's group product manager for mobile devices, said in a PC World report that the Pocket PC would have greater capabilities than previous handhelds running the Windows CE system. He added that Windows CE was "criticized in the past as being too complex, too slow, and having hardware that's too big".

Pocket PC will come with multimedia applications, such as a media player and an e-book reader, and pocket-sized versions of Word and Excel.