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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Updates 'New World of Work'

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Microsoft plans new mobile device features for its Exchange Server and its Windows Mobile 5.0 software, part of its gambit to pit its mobile device software against Blackberry's popular RIM devices.

During a keynote address at the company's TechEd Conference here, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touted the latest mobile messaging and security features in both Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 and the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0.

"The full release is slated for later this year," Ballmer said of the latest direct push and policy-based device security management features. The software is optimized with devices from over 40 OEMs, and it's available with an Exchange Server license. "So there are no new licensing costs," he added.

One new security feature of the mobile software release, slated for this fall, is that data on a handheld device that is lost can be wiped out from a remote manager's terminal. In addition, system administrators can configure and enable a replacement mobile device remotely and help get the worker back on track with their data.

Microsoft also said the next Service Pack 2 release would deliver improved anti-spam protection with Sender ID and increase the storage limit for Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition.

The announcements were sprinkled throughout Ballmer's keynote, which he called Enabling the New World of Work.

"We're in a period of very long-term sustained and positive growth for our industry," he said. "I don't think there has ever been a better, more interesting time to be in the industry than right now. The impact we'll have on the world over the next 10 years will be even bigger than the last 10 years," he said, referring to the use of XML in order to make data truly dynamic, and semantic, but natural language processing, mobility and digital entertainment.

"Your mission, your task, is to enable folks that work for businesses you serve to make better decisions, to engage in this new world of work. Our mission is to also give you, the developers and IT people, the tools that you need so you can drive business success."

Ballmer also ogled Lenovo's recently released ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC, its first major release since IBM sold the ThinkBrand line to the Chinese PC maker. The latest tablet includes an optional fingerprint reader and embedded security subsystem.

In delivering his keynote, with a mix of entertainment and demos of upcoming product features, Ballmer highlighted three core principles for supporting this new world of work.

It starts with network access without compromise, includes a self-service infrastructure in order to ease networking bottlenecks and build infrastructure that information workers can extend and provision themselves.

The third leg is policy management control, the backbone where tools, infrastructure, presence and network access are managed.

"Frankly, this is an area where we have a lot of investment," Ballmer said, referring especially to the company's Rights Management Service product, and its Live Communications Server.

"Network access protection will be available with the new Windows Longhorn Server," Ballmer said, "which comes after the Longhorn Client comes out next year.

Microsoft is gearing up for a big year with its .NET development platform, too -- a key underpinning of the company's "new world of work" approach.

The platform has had five years to mature, and "we think we're ahead for connected systems and interoperability." He claimed that .NET has the edge against Sun's competing J2EE development environment. "This is also a year when I'll say, 'Watch out Rational,'" Ballmer said of IBM's development tools division.

Overall, he added to the over 11,000 attendees at this year's conference: "Our goal together is to provide the infrastructure that facilitates access to information."