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Microsoft shakes hands with CDMA

The company wants wireless devices based on its operating system to work on as many fast telephone networks as possible. In this instance, it's playing catch-up with Palm.

Microsoft is trying to let mobile device owners access nearly all of the faster telephone networks so they can have more reliable wireless Internet access.

The software giant on Tuesday teamed with wireless modem and software maker Sierra Wireless to create a way for owners of PocketPC 2002 devices to use telephone networks based on Code Division Multiple Access, or CDMA. About 15 percent to 20 percent of the world's telephone networks use CDMA technology.

Microsoft is just now catching up to the makers of other operating systems for handheld and mobile devices, including Palm. Unlike devices based on Microsoft's PocketPC 2002 operating system, those based on the Palm OS are already able to access most of the world's telephone networks.

Sierra Wireless will help Microsoft develop the product. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Products based on the development agreement should be available by the end of the year, if not earlier, said Microsoft product manager Ed Suwanjindar.

Phone carrier Sprint said that later this year it would "light" its new, faster phone network based on a CDMA technology known as 1XRTT. Verizon "lit" a portion of its 1XRTT network in Philadelphia earlier this year.

Microsoft already created a way for PocketPC 2002 users to access about 70 percent of the world's telephone networks, which all use GSM, or the Global System for Mobile Communications.

British carrier MmO2 intends to offer a PocketPC 2002 device that works on its GSM network in the first half of next year, according to a Microsoft spokesman.

About 22 companies make handheld devices based on the PocketPC 2002 operating system. Some of the more well-known products include Compaq's iPaq and Hewlett-Packard's Jornada.

In other Microsoft mobile news, the Stinger, the code name for Microsoft's upcoming operating system for so-called smart phones, got a real name. The operating system is now known as Smartphone 2002.