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Ballmer: Microsoft wants to be in your phone

PC World

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (IDG) -- Microsoft's plan to put an abbreviated version of the Internet in users' pockets took further shape as Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's president and chief executive officer, announced new plans under the "Microsoft in Mobility" banner Tuesday.

Ballmer used the keynote address at the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association Wireless 2001 conference to announce new Microsoft products and discuss how they would interact with the company's .Net initiative, which will use XML (Extensible Markup Language) to share information between devices.

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One way Microsoft hopes to drive innovation is to pick two areas in which it is already a leader. The Motorola/MSN T900 pager, which will be released toward the end of this year, will put Microsoft's instant-messaging service and its Web-based e-mail service on a single pager-size device. Instant messaging and e-mail are two markets in which Microsoft has the highest percentage of users in the world, although not in the United States, Ballmer says.

Ballmer also says that Hewlett-Packard will announce this week that it will launch a new version of its HP Jornada handheld PC. The Jornada 525, which runs Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system, will retail for $359, Ballmer says.

XML-Enabled Phones of Tomorrow

Ballmer also discussed some of the company's other plans for the mobile market, including the Tablet PC, which will launch about a year from now and will run Windows XP, and the operating system for smart phones--code-named Stinger--which, like the Pocket PC devices, is based on the Windows CE operating system, he says.

"The phones that people have today are not the phones that people will want to use in the XML generation," Ballmer says. Devices running Microsoft's different operating systems will all be able to exchange information in the future, using XML and Microsoft's Mobile Information Server 2001, which will ship later this year. Mobile Information Server holds information and sends the same information to any device in the format that device can display best, be it a handheld, a smart phone, or a full-fledged PC.

The move is an attempt by Microsoft to set a standard that can be adopted by all devices, Ballmer says. "Eventually the Internet will be accessed by PC, television, and wireless devices."

Ballmer also announced a partnership with High Tech Computer, the Taiwanese company that designs and manufactures Compaq Computer's IPaq, and a broadening of its relationship with Mitsubishi Wireless Communications. Both companies have agreed to use Microsoft software in future mobile phones.

Big Players All Want In on Smart Phones

Microsoft is just one of the companies trying to secure a place for their software in what is expected to be a huge market for so-called smart phones, or mobile phones that can double as personal organizers, send and receive e-mail, and do basic Web surfing. Other contenders include Sun Microsystems, Palm, and Symbian.

Ballmer also confirmed that High Tech Computer has agreed to use Stinger in handsets that HTC plans to release later this year, Microsoft says. HTC doesn't sell to end users, but delivers phones through mobile operators and other handset suppliers.

Mitsubishi will use Microsoft's Mobile Internet Explorer, a sort of mini Web browser, in two of its phones being designed for Global System for Mobile Communications networks in the United States, Ballmer says. The phones, the Trium G520 and GT550, are due in the first quarter of 2002.

Mitsubishi is already a partner of Microsoft, offering a Pocket PC handheld computer in Europe dubbed the Mondo Trium, which mixes voice and data functions. The company has also said it will ship smart phones based on Stinger in Europe later this year.

Boosting its efforts to attract enterprise customers to the Pocket PC, Ballmer highlighted a deal in which J.D. Edwards will make Pocket PC the exclusive PDA platform it supports for information systems based on OneWorld, its enterprise resource planning package.



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