The software behemoth today established an alliance intended to persuade both telecommunications equipment makers and software developers to use Microsoft's Windows technology to deliver new services to their customers.
In a related move, Microsoft today demonstrated technology at a mobile communications conference in France aimed at enticing operators of global mobile communication systems and other networks to base new mobile services on Microsoft's technology.
The announcements are further indication that Microsoft sees support of both telecommunications and wireless technology as vitally important to keep its software product lines competitive. By targeting the telecommunications and wireless arenas, Microsoft is attempting to expand the market for its Windows software franchise and create new revenue streams.
The Windows Telecommunications Alliance is an industry program administered by Microsoft and open to telecommunications hardware makers and independent software vendors. Microsoft will provide members with information and technical assistance to help them build systems using Windows software. Microsoft said there is no membership fee to join the alliance. Members must meet various technical requirements to qualify for use of Microsoft logos and marketing benefits, however.
On the mobile communications front, Microsoft demonstrated mobile access using its Mobile Explorer Web software, Windows for Smart Cards technology, the Internet Cellular Smart Access (ICSA) email server, Exchange Server messaging software, BackOffice products and MSN Mobile Services, the company said.
One demonstration shows how Microsoft's software lets users access data on Exchange using mobile devices with Net access, such as Microsoft Mobile Explorer-powered mobile phones and Windows CE-based palm-size PCs. Microsoft said the demonstrated technology is hosted on infrastructure currently deployed in user trials being conducted by Microsoft and British Telecommunications with five corporate customers in Norway and the United Kingdom.
Microsoft also showcased technology that lets consumers and small office-home office use its messaging client software Outlook from anywhere, at any time, from any device. It features Microsoft ICSA 3.5, which allows mobile operators to deliver mobile Internet services.
The company did not announce ship dates or pricing for any new products.
In 1998, Microsoft invested $25 million in a wireless data service joint venture with Qualcomm called Wireless Knowledge. The data service is used to help workers on the road who are using devices such as digital phones, Windows-based desktop computers, and Windows CE-based handheld devices to hook in to the Internet and corporate networks using Microsoft software.