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12/3/2007
02:53 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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Microsoft Says Verizon Announcement Will Give CIOs More Choices For Mobility

If anyone besides Google stands to gain from a wireless market with open network access, it's Microsoft. Open networks could allow Microsoft to leverage its massive global user base of Windows and Exchange with millions of Windows Mobile smartphones to create a mobile world where businesses can seamlessly integrate their Windows products from e-mail server to desktops to smartphones. This has been the promise of Windows Mobile from the beginning, but after more than five years the reality has ye

If anyone besides Google stands to gain from a wireless market with open network access, it's Microsoft. Open networks could allow Microsoft to leverage its massive global user base of Windows and Exchange with millions of Windows Mobile smartphones to create a mobile world where businesses can seamlessly integrate their Windows products from e-mail server to desktops to smartphones. This has been the promise of Windows Mobile from the beginning, but after more than five years the reality has yet to live up to the potential.But after last week's big news from Verizon Wireless, that may soon change. In order to get Microsoft's view on this potentially revolutionary trend for the U.S. wireless market, I sat down with Scott Rockfeld, Group Product Manager of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business, to talk about Verizon's decision and the future of an open wireless industry.

Over The Air (OTA): Hello, Scott, welcome to Take 5 on Over The Air. Last week was a big week not only for Verizon Wireless but for the entire U.S. wireless industry. Why did Verizon Wireless suddenly decide to embrace open networks?

Scott Rockfeld (SR): While I cannot comment for Verizon, I can tell you that Microsoft fully supports Verizon's bold decision to embrace open network access and satisfy the evolving needs of wireless consumers. Microsoft and Verizon both believe in putting control in the hands of customers by giving them the choices in wireless that best fits their lifestyle.

OTA: What role will Microsoft play in Verizon Wireless' new certification programs for outside devices and mobile applications? Will this program extend to enterprise and business applications as well as consumer applications?

SR: Microsoft's role with these programs has not been determined. However, since Windows Mobile is already available on several phones sold by Verizon Wireless, and Verizon offers many applications developed by Microsoft, we expect more handsets and applications to be certified and available.

OTA: What does the Verizon news mean for CIOs and IT managers?

SR: It gives them a lot more flexibility. Now companies using Verizon, or companies interested in using Verizon, know that they can choose from a variety of handsets or any application -- even if Verizon doesn't offer it. That's a powerful incentive for CIOs and IT managers responding to specific business needs.

OTA: Will businesses be able to more easily manage their mobile devices as a result of Verizon's decision?

SR: We are waiting to see the impact on how Verizon's decision will affect the way businesses manage their devices, but we do know it does give them choice and flexibility on which devices they decide to deploy. However, one of the most important determinations of how a business manages their mobile devices is the operating system on the phone and how that connects to a company's infrastructure.

OTA: How will Verizon's open network affect issues of security for enterprises?

SR: Security is a top concern for Microsoft and Verizon. We cannot speculate on specific security features in the open network, but Microsoft does have safeguards in place in Windows Mobile that give individuals and IT departments the choice of how best to secure a device. The combination of Windows Mobile and Exchange Server, plus enhancements with the System Center Mobile Device Manager, includes the security features most requested by our customers, such as data and password protection, and remote and local wipe.

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