Windows CE user interfaces have faced a variety of design challenges over the last five years. While some may argue that this UI is nothing more than the traditional desktop Microsoft Windows miniaturized to fit a smaller display, UI research has been carried out on each product to help guide the design process. As the research continues, the understanding of users, their tasks and environments evolves. In order to support tasks in various environments, new form factors and input/output methods have been developed. Each product was designed to be a desktop companion. To that end, consistency with the desktop versions of the applications and operating system has played a large role in defining the user interface for each product. The challenge facing Windows CE designers is to extend the traditional desktop Windows metaphors and designs to the broad spectrum of CE devices.
Users of the Handheld PC (H/PC), Palm-sized PC (P/PC) and Auto PC (A/PC) are loosely defined as mobile professionals. These are people who spend a set amount of time away from their work desk, who have an intermediate understanding of Microsoft Windows, use Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel on a daily basis and who maintain both an address book and calendar to manage their personal information.
When considering the characteristics of the mobile professional and tasks that needed to be supported, designers for Windows CE realised that a number of different form factors and feature sets would be needed. While not all the user tasks, scenarios and features are outlined in this paper, here are a few that were considered when developing various products.