updated 02:05 pm EDT, Thu May 8, 2008
Microsoft Fone Plus
Microsoft today discussed some of the details of a project it estimates could help address a lack of computing in developing countries. A plan so far known as Fone+ would give users a basic or mid-range smartphone with a dock or similar connection to a TV, giving them a potentially higher-resolution screen and a more comfortable distance to use the device as a budget computer. Doing so not only provides a relatively low cost PC but also a cellphone at the same time; this gives even farmers a way to compute without taking away phones they often use, Microsoft says.
The project would use a variant on Windows Mobile, though whether Fone+ would use a custom phone design or a stock phone from an existing manufacturer is unknown. Microsoft has used prototypes to prove the validity of the concept but hasn't announced any intentions to translate this to a production model. Existing work has so far been kept within Microsoft and hasn't involved outside partners, according to the company.
Processors such as Intel's Atom are said to be instrumental to developments like Fone+ by significantly increasing the performance of handhelds and ultimately cellphones in the near future, enabling multi-function devices that perform the same tasks that would require a desktop or notebook today.