Microsoft agrees on OS collaboration with Japanese group

Microsoft Corp. and its Japanese subsidiary are to begin working with the group behind an operating system used in most Japanese cellular telephones to allow that OS and Windows CE .Net to coexist on devices, the parties said Thursday.

The work ties Microsoft with the T-Engine Forum, a group established in 2002 to promote a standardized real-time operating system development environment based around T-Kernel, a real-time operating system. T-Kernel or its predecessor, Tron, are used in most models of cellular telephone in use in Japan and can be found in other consumer or industrial electronics devices.

NEC Corp., which has the largest share of the domestic handset market, says it uses the operating system to handle communication functions such as call connection in its domestic handsets while a second operating system, which can vary between each model of cellular telephone and is not a standard platform, is used to run the applications that the user sees. Toshiba Corp. said it uses Tron in almost all of its domestic handsets.

The work that will shortly commence between Microsoft and the T-Engine Forum, should it succeed, will make it easier for developers to include Microsoft’s operating system on their cellular telephones and other devices that use T-Kernel.

At present Microsoft doesn’t have a version of its Windows CE .Net for the Japanese market because Japan doesn’t use the standard Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) cellular telephone system. The majority of users in Japan are subscribed to networks that use the Japan-only Personal Digital Communications (PDC) standard while some are on a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network which has some technical differences with standard CDMA used worldwide.

“It was very complicated and confusing to have two operating systems,” said Akiko Yamaguchi, a spokeswoman for Microsoft Ltd. in Tokyo. “(We had) Tron on one side and Windows CE .Net on one side so people need to make two types of software. If this works software makers don’t have to make two versions. Just one version to run on either system.”

She said the collaboration could also aid the T-Engine Forum in promoting T-Kernel overseas.

“There are many developers who want to develop on Windows CE .Net and Tron. Tron is strong in Japan and Windows CE .Net is following so Windows CE .Net has a benefit to work with Tron. Overseas, Tron doesn’t have so much strength so it benefits them to work together.”

First results of the collaboration are expected to be seen in December when Tronshow, an exhibition focused on the Tron operating system and T-Kernel, takes place in Tokyo.