Microsoft Invests In Mobility

"The sky is the limit," Gates said in his keynote address at the first U.S. Microsoft Mobility Developer conference, held here in tandem with the CTIA expo.

To help fuel its mobility strategy, Microsoft has stepped forward with significant investments in research and development and developer programs, he said.

>>%A0 Regarding Microsoft's mobility investment, "the sky is the limit," Gates said.

"We want to help developers with all the different aspects of their activities, such as tools to develop and test all their applications, and certification programs such as Mobile2Market, which is a complete catalog of all these [mobile applications]," Gates said.

To that end, Microsoft is giving away 25,000 ViewSonic Pocket PCs with the .Net Compact Framework,a subset of its .Net software architecture and Web services platform,to Visual Studio developers so they can test mobile applications.

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The software giant also is now making its Smartphone software developer's kit available to Microsoft Mobile Solutions Partners so they can see how their applications look on the device's smaller screen. The kit includes a Smartphone and accessories, as well as the Microsoft Mobile Development Toolkit CD.

In addition, over the next few months, Microsoft plans to release a version of Visual Studio.Net that will incorporate the .Net Compact Framework as well as other mobile capabilities, including ASP.Net controls designed to give developers rich forms capabilities that work across multiple devices. Over time, the

.Net Compact Framework will be built into mobile devices, Gates said.

"We are certainly going to take a look at [the .Net Compact Framework] to see if it's a fit for our model," said Ampy Buchholz, engineering manager at Pacific Star Communications, a Portland, Ore.-based wireless integrator. "Microsoft has a 90 percent market share in the PC world, so if they're aggressively going after the mobile market, I'd be a little worried if I was Palm."

However, Richard Pizzarro, chairman and CEO of med-Media, a mobile applications solution provider in Harrisburg, Pa., expressed frustration with Microsoft's move to encourage mobile developers to use the .Net Compact Framework.

"We're just getting the last infrastructure for the Pocket PC environment running, and now they're going to jump to a whole new infrastructure," Pizzarro said. "The Pocket PC OS, as it is, is just painfully unfriendly."