Microsoft Wires Push Mobile E-Mail Service

Microsoft announced software upgrades today that will give Outlook users free access to wireless corporate e-mail on mobile devices. The move means that millions of wireless handset users will no longer have to wait for IT managers to install separate server computers.

Specifically, Microsoft is offering free upgrades for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Windows Mobile 5.0. The software is designed to keep business users’ Outlook Mobile up to date by delivering information quickly and directly to Windows Mobile-based devices.

“Successfully addressing the mobility demands of today’s business market requires a combination of powerful networks, breadth and choice of applications, and clear answers to business issues of security, return on investment and systems integration,” said Vish Sowani, vice president, International Business Marketing at T-Mobile.

Seizing the Opportunity

Microsoft hopes to do all of the above with its enhancements to Outlook Mobile. TheMessaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 will allow users to send Word, Excel, PowerPoint, music and video attachments in messages with rich e-mail formatting and no size restrictions.

Once the software is deployed this fall, industry watchers predict Microsoft’s push service could almost immediately propel the software giant past BlackBerry, with its estimated 5.3 million subscribers by year end.

Microsoft’s software will give more than 130 million Outlook users the option to access their e-mail from a Windows Mobile 5.0 device. Therein lies Microsoft’s motive, according to Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox.

Microsoft’s Motive

Wilcox told TechNewsWorld that Microsoft wants to sell more Windows Mobile devices. While Microsoft has that opportunity, there are also barriers for the software giant to overcome in this market — and it’s not necessarily competition with BlackBerry or Palm’s Trio.

“I don’t see this as Microsoft trying to go after Blackberry as Microsoft trying to extend the capabilities for customers that are looking for Windows Mobile,” Wilcox said. “Forty-six percent of U.S. companies with 250 or more employees run Exchange Server 2003. Those companies would be in a position to take advantage of these capabilities.”

But, analysts said, there are two sticking points: when the software will actually be deployed and how many Windows 5.0 devices are available later this year. Microsoft will need support from carriers and device makers to fully leverage the opportunity. Wilcox believes Microsoft’s partners will see the light.

“This is a good move for Microsoft and its good for its partners. People forget. It’s not just about Microsoft,” Wilcox said. “One of the reasons Microsoft is successful is because third parties make money using its products.”

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