TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Microsoft Phone Software Runs Hard Drives

Microsoft Phone Software Runs Hard Drives

Lisa Minter (
Tue, 10 May 2005 15:33:01 -0500

By Reed Stevenson

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. , on Tuesday released a new
version of its mobile phone software with the ability to run miniature
hard drives and new features like a walkie-talkie style "push-to-talk."

The world's largest software maker has struggled in the mobile phone
world but sees a chance to unseat entrenched rivals such as market
leader Symbian Ltd. with Windows Mobile 5.0.

"We've made a heck of a lot of progress," Microsoft Chief Executive
Steve Ballmer said in an interview, "I think we've learned a lot." The
maker of the Windows computer operating system launched a mobile
phones unit about five years ago.

The cell phone market is a fragmented collection of wireless carriers,
handset makers and other technology providers that need to work
together to deliver closely integrated products and services and
Microsoft made a rocky start.

"With carriers launching higher speed networks the business case for
more advanced devices is starting to make more sense," said Hugues De
La Verne, analyst at researcher Gartner Group.

Microsoft's share of the mobile device software market is estimated at
16 to 18 percent, while Symbian is seen having a 61 to 71 percent
market share.

Symbian, created in 1998, is half-owned by Finland's Nokia, as well as
handset makers Siemens, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Matsushita
Electric Industrial Co., which owns the Panasonic brand.


Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said that 40 hardware makers are
shipping devices so far using its Windows Mobile software.

In the United States, however, phones running Windows Mobile, which
Microsoft calls Smartphones, have been overshadowed by hot-selling
devices such as Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry wireless e-mail
devices as well as PalmOS-based phones such as the Treo.

Microsoft said Windows Mobile 5.0 would let e-mails pop up on a user's
phone as they arrive. The software will also work with "push-to-talk"
features, which allows phone users to chat walkie-talkie style, by
pushing a button when they want to talk to another party.

Support for hard drives could also turn phones into multimedia devices
that could store music and video, potentially taking the of a separate
cell phone and a separate digital music device, such as Apple Computer
Inc.'s iPod music player.

Microsoft said that it expects phones running the new mobile software
to be offered by carriers within the next few months.

Moreover, faster speeds on cell phone networks also mean that users
will have better access to online e-mail, data and content that will
provide a stronger incentive for them to upgrade to more advanced

(Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York).

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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