Microsoft Corp yesterday announced a slew of new devices that would boast a push e-mail upgrade for its mobile messaging software, which pits Windows Mobile 5.0 products against Research in Motion Ltd’s BlackBerries and other devices.
The upgrade enables direct e-mail push, which means messages are sent directly to a device as they come on the server. Previously, a user had to sync their Windows device with the server to manually retrieve e-mail.
The upgrade also sports some new security features, such as the ability to remotely wipe data from devices and stronger data encryption.
Microsoft announced the add-ons in June, but had not detailed the timing of carrier rollouts.
Microsoft said various carriers, including Cingular Wireless, Orange, Sprint, T-Mobile and Vodafone, would offer the upgrade free. Forthcoming devices from several carriers would ship devices pre-loaded with the upgrade, such as Hewlett-Packard’s iPaq hw6900 Mobile Messenger and Fujitsu-Siemens FS Pocket Loox. Palm and i-mate also said they would provide free upgrades to customers with Windows Mobile 5.0 devices.
Vodafone plans to sell a range of phones running Windows Mobile 5.0 with the push e-mail upgrade to SME customers in England, France and Germany next month, with the service being rolled out else in Europe later in the year.
HTC Corp also said its line of Windows Mobile-based devices would boast the upgrade and be available globally to T-Mobile and other operators in the second quarter.
While other mobile messaging makers, notably RIM, Good Technology, Symbian and Visto, have had push e-mail capabilities for some time now, the new Windows Mobile features may help Microsoft catch up.
Microsoft also has the potential of a BlackBerry service shutdown in the US working in its favor.
Canada-based RIM is being sued by Arlington, Virginia-based patent house NTP Inc, which claims the BlackBerry infringes on several NTP patents.
NTP is seeking a suspension of BlackBerry service in the US, a complaint that will be heard later this month by a US court.
Gartner last year recommended that companies hold off on BlackBerry roll-out plans on hold and work out a contingency plan to find another service provider in the event of a US BlackBerry injunction. That spells a business opportunity for Microsoft and its peers.
Microsoft declined to comment about the potential effects of the RIM-NTP case.
RIM’s legal worries have helped Visto Corp add as many as 15 new mobile operator customers during the past year, said Visto spokesperson Suzanne Panoplos last month.
Initially, those operators were just offering BlackBerry, but now are putting in place their own white-label solution to give them flexibility . . . they want an alternative to BlackBerry, Panoplos said. They’ve been kind of hedging their bets all along.
The mobile messaging space is a battlefield of litigation. Visto last December sued Microsoft for patent infringement, alleging Windows Mobile 5.0 infringes on three Visto patents that enable devices to access corporate e-mail servers.
The Redwood Shores, California-based ISV is seeking an immediate and permanent injunction against Microsoft to prevent it from selling Windows Mobile 5.0, as well as unspecified monetary damages.
In a separate announcement, Microsoft also said yesterday that a slew of OEMs were building lower-cost Windows smart phones using a cheaper chipset from Texas Instruments Inc. The single-core chipset promises less-expensive, more feature-rich Windows devices, Microsoft said. Amoi Electronics, HTC and Sagem Communication are slated to release Windows smartphones with the lower-cost silicon within a year.