With Dell set to put the cat among the Pocket PC pigeons with the launch of its low-cost handheld, Microsoft and Samsung have today announced an alliance that will allow them to develop ultra-low cost Pocket PC devices.

The two companies are working on developing concept designs that will allow ODMs (original device manufacturers) to use Microsoft software and Samsung hardware to come up with competitively priced devices. The two say that the initiative will help to cut development time and allow for more efficient design.

The new design incorporates a Samsung ARM9-based S3C2410 processor and the Pocket PC operating system, using either a mono or colour 3.5in screen. Expansion is offered in the form of an SD (Secure Digital) card slot. Perhaps in response to the recent launch of Palm's tiny Tungsten T, dimensions have been kept to 104x71mm for the mono-screened device (the Tungsten measures102x76mm) and weighs 82g.

Samsung and Microsoft say working together on the design has enabled them to significantly simplify it. As a result, they claim manufacturers will be able to come up with cheaper, better Pocket PC devices. "Mobile device manufacturers can take advantage of fully optimised, low-cost concept designs to bring their products to market quickly and at competitive price points", says Juha Christensen, corporate vice-president of Microsoft's mobile devices division.

As yet no third party has announced that it will take up the reference design. A Microsoft spokesperson said the soonest we could see a device on the shelves would be April or May next year, assuming a developer took up the design on launch.