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Microsoft, Vodafone team on mobile Web services

The companies join forces to extend Web services standards to mobile devices, in an attempt to open up the potentially lucrative mobile network services market to Web services developers.

Microsoft and Vodafone are joining forces to extend Web services standards to mobile devices, in an attempt to open up the potentially large and lucrative mobile network services market to Web services developers.

The companies announced their partnership Monday at the ITU Telecom 2003 conference in Geneva. The pact will essentially make it easier for more developers of Web services on PCs to port their efforts to mobile devices. A Web service is a software application available over a network--usually the Internet--that uses a standardized Extensible Markup Language, or XML, messaging system and is not tied to any one operating system or programming language.


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The goal of the Microsoft-Vodafone partnership is to expand the number of developers for mobile networks and devices, while also providing developers with a new market to target.

"On the mobile side, in terms of efforts to build developer communities, we don't feel we've achieved everything we need to in promoting the developer world for mobile devices," said Charles Fitzgerald, general manager in the Platform Strategy Group at Microsoft.

Services and software based on this approach are expected next year.

Microsoft and Vodafone want to enable developers to add mobile network services such as messaging, location, authentication and billing to their applications. The aim is to allow customers to use mobile Web services applications on multiple devices on both wired and wireless networks.

"We're bringing together the mobile and PC world and creating a common way of building more integrated apps," said Ian Maxwell, group strategic relationship director of Vodafone, which maintains one of the largest data networks in Europe.

Maxwell said it's a challenge for any platform to reach a critical mass of developers, but added that through the announced partnership, the bar for creating applications and services goes down dramatically.