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6/6/2005
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Microsoft Mobile Operating System Uses Push E-Mail To Take On BlackBerry

Push E-mail will be a key part of the Messaging and Security Features Pack due for Mobile 5.0.

A service pack Microsoft will make available for its recently launched Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system should make it easier for mobile-device users to get their E-mail while on the road.

The Messaging and Security Features Pack, unveiled today, is based on wireless features that will be in Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 2. The technologies are due in the fall.

The mobile features pack is built around what Microsoft calls "direct push technology," designed to push E-mail directly from Microsoft Outlook to a Windows-based mobile device. There is a direct connection between Exchange Server 2003 and the device, so businesses can bypass additional servers and middleware. This can help IT departments cut unnecessary server infrastructure costs, says John Starkweather, senior product manager for the mobile and embedded devices division at Microsoft.

Research In Motion Inc.'s BlackBerry device has grown in popularity faster than other mobile devices in recent years, yet some industry observers wonder whether Windows Mobile 5.0 will be a bigger challenge for the BlackBerry because of support for push E-mail. Microsoft sees a big opportunity in extending Outlook and business applications to wireless devices used by people on the go, Starkweather says. One advantage Microsoft has over the BlackBerry, Starkweather says, is the variety of different wireless devices that will soon support Windows Mobile 5.0 with the features pack. About 40 mobile-device vendors expect to deliver products based on the operating system starting this summer.

With the features pack, businesses using Exchange Server 2003 will be able manage Windows-based mobile devices the same way they manage PCs and servers. They'll be able to remove and reset information stored on mobile devices wirelessly, for example.

Windows Mobile 5.0 should help advance Microsoft's position in the wireless markets. Says Yankee Group analyst John Jackson: "The new operating system offers better usability and performance, wireless support, and flexibility. What's also important is that it supports a variety of next-generation technologies."

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