Microsoft, Partners Launch New Wireless Offerings Aimed At Enterprise

After years of false starts, Microsoft and partners are hoping that its new round of wireless products and services get more traction in the enterprise.

Toward that end, Microsoft this week unveiled an enhanced version of its wireless server, Mobile Information Server (MIS) 2002, a combined Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition and a major initiative with partner Intel to develop reference designs for PDA devices and smart phones.

Microsoft revealed the availability of MIS 2002 at the Internet World Wireless East 2002 show in New York this week, as well as plans by major services partners including Compaq Computer, Accenture, Avanade, Cap Gemini Ernst and Young, CompuWare, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM Global Services, MobileSynch and Onset Technology to develop solutions based on the new wireless server.

Compaq and HP, for example, have launched service offerings to speed deployment at enterprise customer sites. Compaq also showed off an end-to-end wireless solution based on MIS 2002 that will give customers wireless access to their Microsoft Exchange 2002 data on a variety of cellular and wireless networks.

Using Compaq's iPaq Pocket PC with MIS 2002, for instance, customers can access their in-box, calendar and contacts from their Compaq ProLiant servers running Exchange 2002 from any location, Compaq said. Compaq Global Services will deploy Managed Mobility solutions for MIS this April and is in discussions with a number of channel partners to resell the products and services, a Compaq spokesman said.

Microsoft also said that the next version of Exchange, which is scheduled to go into beta testing during the first half of 2003, will include wireless access via mobile devices using Outlook Mobile Access, thus giving early users of MIS 2002 an easy migration path to the next Exchange upgrade.

Separately, Microsoft said at the 3GSM World Congress 2002 show in Cannes, France, that it is working with device manufacturers including HP and mm02 to bring devices based on the Pocket PC Phone Edition software to the market.

HP, for example, demonstrated its Jornada 928 Wireless Digital Assistant PDA with integrated voice and data capabilities based on Microsoft's software.

With the combined phone PDA functionality, customers can choose voice and text communications for wireless access to both personal and corporate data, Microsoft said. The software features, for instance, one-touch dialing from contacts, the ability to edit personal information from the phone application and more options for connectivity to wide area networks and wireless networks.

Finally, Microsoft revealed this week another wireless development initiative with Intel that calls for the development of reference designs for PDAs and smart phones. The designs, based on Microsoft's Pocket PC and Smartphone 2002 platforms as well as Intel's Personal Internet Client Architecture, are aimed at speeding the development of wireless and handheld devices, applications and services that combine voice communications and Internet access capabilities.