Microsoft Makes Move To Rattle RIM

Windows Mobile 5.0-based devices such as Hewlett-Packard&'s iPaq hw6900 Mobile Messenger will include support for push e-mail, which allows users to get e-mail from an Exchange server without the added expense of third-party software. This feature—central to the BlackBerry&'s popularity—is enabled by the Messaging and Security Feature Pack, which Microsoft introduced at its July partner show and quietly distributed to mobile phones and OEMs in the fall.

Partners said because Microsoft&'s push e-mail solution doesn&'t require additional servers or licensing fees, the Redmond, Wash.-based vendor could grab some of BlackBerry&'s market share.

“The big knock against the BlackBerry solution is that it&'s somewhat of a walled garden,” said Dan Croft, president and CEO of Mission Critical Wireless, Lincolnshire, Ill. RIM, Waterloo, Ontario, has tried to make it easier for handset vendors to incorporate BlackBerry functionality but its efforts have met with little success in North America, he added.

“RIM is still trying to get businesses to buy into the value of paying extra money for an additional server,” said John Starkweather, group product manager in Microsoft&'s Mobile and Embedded Service Division.

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PAULA ROONEY contributed to this story.