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February 14, 2006

Microsoft pours it on at 3GSM

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 5:16 AM

BARCELONA, Spain -- With more than 100 Microsoft employees from the company's seven business divisions at 3GSM, the software giant is determined to show deep commitment to the wireless industry.

Now comes word from the top -- CEO Steve Ballmer is delivering a keynote speech to the gathering in which he's outlining new partnerships and releases on top ofl announcements the company has already made at the show.

"By Steve being here, it is a testament," said Karen Carter, director of marketing with the mobile and embedded devices division. "This is where deals are done. That's why we have such a big presence here"

Topping the list of partnerships is one with Virgin Mobile. Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group is joining Ballmer by video message broadcast on stage, showing off what's said to be the world's first broadcast phone.

The phone enables Virgin to be the first European carrier to have live digital TV on the phone. The service, called BT Movio broadcast, was built with Microsoft Media technology.

The phone, called Trilogy, was developed by Taiwan handset maker HTC and will come loaded with Windows Mobile 5.0 in a cute red form factor, Carter said.

The phone's release is notable because typically Microsoft targets enterprise customers. This phone does not have a full keyboard,and it is associated with Virgin Mobile, known for having a hip, youth oriented demographic. Of course, it's not all about the looks. Because it works on Windows Mobile, It will still be capable of running Outlook or other Microsoft Office products.
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No word yet on what the phone or service will cost when it launches this summer.

Piggybacking on the consumer focus, Ballmer is showing plans today for Windows Live on mobile devices. The online service, part of the company's push into so-calle Web services, will include a local search function that will, for example, allow a user to find pizza locations within a Zip code.

On the enterprise side, Ballmer announced the availability of Communicator Mobile, which extends the Live Communications Server to the mobile phone. The Communications Server allows workers to track down people and determine the best way to interact with them, given where or what that person may be doing at the time. That idea of "presence" will now be on the mobile phone, as well.

Finally, Ballmer is discussing how Windows Vista, the new operating system expected by year's end, will address mobility. Currently, Windows devices communicate with computers through a program called ActiveSync. With Vista, it will be called the Mobile Device Center, which will better tie the two devices together.

Stay tuned for an update after the keynote for more.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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