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Microsoft Flies Out of 3GSM Gate

Microsoft has come a long way from the geeky pocket protector stereotype of its early days, but now Microsoft is hoping for a return to your pocket in a big way.

The company is making a big splash at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona this week, with several new technology introductions and partnerships that target wireless mobile devices and phones based on its Windows Mobile platform.

Microsoft’s opening-day announcements at 3GSM revolve around a number of technology and strategic initiatives, including MSN, search and Windows Live.

"The emerging field of mobile search is strategically important and crucial to delivering on our vision for Windows Live of providing a seamless and rich information experience for individuals and businesses across devices," said Christopher Payne, corporate vice president of MSN Search in a statement.

Among the news rolled out by Microsoft on the opening day of conference includes a European version of Windows Mobile Email, which will be deployed by wireless service provider Vodaphone to business users of devices based on Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system in France, Germany and the U.K.

The push technology works with Microsoft Outlook and Office Excel to channel emails and attachments to mobile devices within the Vodafone network, which is available in 27 countries and has a subscriber base of more than 179 million people.

The software will be offered as a free upgrade and incorporate enhanced security features and Direct Push Technology as part of Microsoft's Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP), the company said.

The technology was previously available as a hosted service, but can now communicate communicates directly with Microsoft Exchange Server and Windows Small Business Server without the need for additional e-mail servers and middleware, said Microsoft.

Microsoft also announced a variety of new mobile devices based on the Windows Mobile platform that incorporate the Direct Push Technology, including HP's iPaq hw6900 Mobile Messenger, the Gigabyte Communications g-Smart and the Fujitsu Siemens FS Pocket Loox.

The HP iPaq Mobile Messenger will also use Good Technology's GoodLink and GoodAccess wireless messaging and corporate data access software for connections to e-mail, contacts, calendar, notes, tasks and other data.

Microsoft also made deals with Amoi Electronics, HTC and Sagem Communication to develop a new class of mobile smartphones that use a high-performance chipset created by Texas Instruments. The phones will use TI's OMAPV1030 EDGE chipset as a replacement for a more expensive and less flexible dual-core chipset, say sources.

Microsoft also announced the acquisition of MotionBridge, a provider of mobile search technology based in France that currently partners with Orange, Sprint and O2 Ltd. Key assets obtained in the deal include access to the company's search engine technology and entry into the distribution channels which come from its mobile operator relationships.

The company plans to work with the MotionBridge technology team to develop search solutions for its Windows Live platform and improve the mobile search capabilities of its Windows Mobile operating system environment. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.