The service enables smartphone users to back up and sync their contacts, photos, videos, calendars, and text messages over the air. A user's data gets backed up to a password-protected Web account, and the information can be easily transferred to a new phone if the user loses the handset or buys a new one.
My Phone is somewhat similar to Apple's MobileMe backup program, except it will not have as much storage capabilities and won't have a yearly cost. The My Phone beta is available now, and it will work for all users with a Windows Mobile 6.0 or 6.1 smartphones.
The My Phone service is just the latest attempt by Microsoft to make its mobile platform more attractive. While more Windows Mobile phones shipped last year than iPhones, most of the attention and momentum are with rivals like Google's Android, Apple's iPhone, and Research In Motion's BlackBerry, and potentially the upcoming Palm Pre.
Microsoft has just put the finishing touches on Windows Mobile 6.5, and the software update will add a host of new features. The 6.5 version will integrate the My Phone service, and it will have a revamped user interface that's better suited for touch control. Windows Mobile 6.5 is expected to hit the market in the second half of 2009.
Microsoft also is looking to emulate the success Apple had with its App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch, as it plans to launch Windows Marketplace for Mobile later this year. Windows Mobile already has a strong developer community, one that Microsoft is hoping to tap into. The company said it's looking to have nearly 20,000 programs in its online application store at launch.
Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).