In recent months Microsoft has persuaded mobile phone maker Nokia to try Windows Live Search and support PlayReady DRM on some of their phones, but today they took a big step further with the announcement of the trial availability of a suite of Windows Live services in Europe and the Middle East on some Nokia mobiles:
Microsoft today formally announced at 3GSM07 a full fledged Windows Live for Windows Mobile (that certainly trips off the tongue) client as well as two separate Windows Live Search options for mobile phones:
Today at 3GSM World Congress 2007, Microsoft Corp. announced three new Windows Live™ for mobile services that provide search and communications capabilities to help people access their world of relationships, information and interests from their mobile device. Now available in the United States and the United Kingdom, Live Search for Windows Mobile® and Live Search for Java provide customers with advanced local search and mapping capabilities on their mobile device. In conjunction with the availability of Windows Mobile 6, Microsoft also introduced Windows Live for Windows Mobile — a rich set of Windows Live services including e-mail, instant messaging and search — uniquely designed to work with Windows Mobile powered devices.
Live Search for Windows Mobile and Live Search for Java
Live Search is now available as a software client application on Windows Mobile and Java devices. These Live Search applications represent the latest innovation in mobile search from Microsoft, providing customers with fast, easy-way access to local listings and maps. New capabilities include a unique, category-based search, which virtually eliminates the need to type text into the phone; an option to “map all results” so several listings appear on the same map; aerial imagery; and local traffic status in selected U.S. cities. Live Search for Windows Mobile provides additional new capabilities including satellite imagery, GPS integration and the ability to send search results to a friend.
The new Live Search applications will be available in the United States and the United Kingdom to customers using Windows Mobile powered devices, Nokia Series 40 and Series 60 devices, the Motorola RAZR/SLVR family, and assorted LG and Samsung devices.
Customers interested in the Live Search for Windows Mobile and Live Search for Java applications can go to http://mobile.search.live.com to view a complete list of device availability and download the software for their device at no cost. Users can easily download the Live Search client directly to their mobile phone by going to http://wls.live.com on their phone’s browser.
Windows Live for Windows Mobile
Windows Live for Windows Mobile will provide customers with a rich set of Windows Live services, including Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Live Search and Windows Live Spaces, uniquely designed to work with Windows Mobile software. Windows Mobile powered devices, with their advanced software, processing power and memory, make ideal platforms for the delivery of Windows Live services. Windows Live for Windows Mobile offers one of the first industry examples of a single integrated and presence-enabled contact list on a mobile device. One consolidated list provides customers with easy access to all their Windows Live, Microsoft Office Outlook® and other contacts, as well as relevant presence information.
The Windows Live Developer Program for Mobile now supports the development tools for independent software vendors (ISVs) to create applications such as Windows Live for Windows Mobile. The developer program provides software development kits, testing guidelines and support to ISVs to develop Windows Live for mobile solutions for Windows Mobile, Java, Symbian and Palm devices, and deploy them with mobile operators. Developers who are interested in joining the Windows Live Developer Program for Mobile should contact email@example.com.
More details by following the link, but except for the Java variant these seem like predictable mappings of Windows Live services to the Windows Mobile form factor and infrastructure. The outreach to other platforms including actually building a Java version of Live Search is reasonably prompted by the desire to not exclude any possible ciustomers and after all that is the point of a Web based service.
Windows Mobile 6.0 (codenamed Crossbow) has been available to phone manufacturers since November 2006, but will get its formal public introduction on Monday according to Ina Fried at CNET:
Microsoft plans on Monday to officially announce Windows Mobile 6, formerly code-named Crossbow, at the 3GSM trade show in Barcelona. The first devices using the software aren’t expected until spring, however, with the bulk of products using the new operating system likely to come in the second half of the year.
Among the most visible changes is the ability to type in a few letters of a song, contact or e-mail subject and have the phone automatically show only matching results. The software also supports HTML e-mail. But for Exchange messages to be viewable in that form, a company also has to have Exchange 2007, the new version of Microsoft’s e-mail server software.
Windows Mobile 6 also builds in support for Windows Live instant messaging and e-mail, which enables users to see whether a contact is online and to get their Hotmail or Windows Live Mail messages pushed down automatically.
After years of struggling to make inroads in the phone business, Microsoft is starting to find its way. Its software is now on many of Palm’s Treo devices and also on new, slim phones like Samsung’s BlackJack and T-Mobile’s Dash. The company sold 3 million licenses of Windows Mobile last quarter, up 90 percent from a year earlier.
Because it uses the same core–Windows CE 5–the new mobile operating system is expected to work with nearly all the existing Windows Mobile 5 applications.
That’s also why some have called Crossbow Windows Mobile 5 Second Edition. The next big change in Windows Mobile is coming with Photon which is about a year away.
There are more details on Crossbow in the CNET report including that support for Office 2007 file formats will not arrive until the summer. Also there has been a nomenclature change:
Pocket PC Phone Edition, for touch screens, becomes Windows Mobile Professional, while Smartphone edition, for non touch screens, becomes Windows Mobile Standard. A third version, Windows Mobile Classic, is designed for PDAs without phone capabilities, an increasingly small slice of the market.
Photon is also supposed to finally unify the Pocket PC and Smartphone editions (by whatever name) which today generally require the development of two different versions of applications.
Update: Matthew Miller at ZDNet has a nice mini review and Jay Greene at BusinessWeek.com puts it all in perspective:
For Microsoft, the mobile phone business has been marked more by defeats than victories. When it pushed into the business in 2002, handset makers and mobile phone carriers balked, worried that the software giant would try to marginalize partners, squeezing the lion’s share of profits for itself just as it has in the PC business. What’s more, its software was clunky, and a battery hog to boot, making devices running it unappealing.
The turning point came in September, 2005, when Microsoft convinced longtime rival Palm to put Windows Mobile inside its popular Treo device. Microsoft Senior Vice-President Pieter Knook calls it a “watershed moment” for Windows Mobile’s legitimacy. Over time, the company became more willing to let handset makers and carriers define the customer experience, as long as users tapped into e-mail servers running Microsoft’s Exchange software.
Those improvements, along with the global familiarity with Microsoft’s software, helped it leapfrog BlackBerry. IDC’s estimates for 2006 worldwide market share for so-called converged devices—mobile phones that can handle e-mail and surf the Web—put Microsoft’s share at 9.8%, compared with 7.3% for BlackBerry. Still, BlackBerry held the U.S. lead through the first nine months of 2006, with a 49.4% share versus Windows Mobile’s 29% share. And worldwide, both significantly trail Nokia-backed Symbian, the mobile-operating system that’s huge in Europe and Japan.
Some Microsoft news items from this week that did not find posts of their own:
Ed Bott notes the first appearance of Vista OEM prices (for smaller OEMs) and Microsoft Answers ‘Vista OEM’ Questions. If you actually need to buy a retail copy of Vista, hopefully you’re savvy enough to not pay full price. Best line:
Going OEM means you don’t get the skimpy manual or other scraps of paper that comes with the regular retail version. But when (was) the last time a basic Microsoft manual told you anything you needed to know?
For a completely different demographic: Yes, there is a Windows Vista Starter Edition.
Microsoft released the software development kits (SDKs) for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, and the Microsoft Office Project 2007 platform.
Shocking news: Microsoft hurt by poor Live branding, analysts say.
Stop me if you have heard this one before: Symantec warns of new zero-day Word attack. This one too: Windows Defender Lets Spyware Slip onto Vista PCs.
Nintendo profits soar and the Wii now does the Internet – Wii news channel debuts early. Meanwhile, Sony’s PlayStation 3 to Debut in Europe, Mideast, Africa and Australia on March 23.
The two main evangelizers of the Linux operating system, Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG), are merging to form the Linux Foundation.
The duopoly of Windows Mobile and Symbian is to face its biggest challenge yet, with six big names in mobile telephony backing the development of a new Linux-based software platform for mobile phones.
The founders of the LiMo Foundation are handset makers Motorola, NEC, Panasonic and Samsung, plus two big operators – NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone