RealTime IT News

Microsoft OS Looks Good in Orange

Microsoft marked its entry Tuesday into the mobile phone market Tuesday with the debut of its Windows Smartphone OS for handsets.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant confirmed earlier reports of a partnership between itself and French-owned phone maker Orange. Microsoft said Orange will be the first mobile operator to bring Smartphone-based handsets with its Sound, Pictures, Video (SVP) features starting October 28 in the United Kingdom. In the United States, AT&T Wireless announced plans to bring Smartphone-based handsets to market by mid-2003.

Samsung Electronics, the third-largest handset vendor in the world, also announced a cross-platform commitment to Windows Powered mobile devices, including the Smartphone. Samsung's Smartphone will feature a color display and a stylish flip-top design. The company also said it plans on rolling out a MITs (Mobile Intelligent Terminal by Samsung) based on Microsoft's Pocket PC platform at a later date.

In addition, Sendo, Compal Electronics and Taiwan-based High Tech Computer (HTC) will also make the Microsoft-enhanced phones.

Microsoft's entry into mobile phones is a direct challenge to more experienced suppliers such as Nokia , Motorola and Sony Ericsson.

The new OS is a departure from Microsoft's Pocket PC Phone Edition, which lets PDAs make phone calls but rely on larger devices.

"Microsoft has spent the last 27 years creating software that improves the way people live, work and communicate," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "Now, we're able to deliver a familiar and powerful software experience on a mobile phone to people around the world. Smartphone redefines what people can expect from their phone, offering them voice, e-mail, MSN Messenger or Short Message Service (SMS). We're very excited to bring the Smartphone to market."

Beyond just making phone calls, Microsoft said the new OS taps into familiar Outlook functions including browsing contacts, calendar and e-mails. Phone numbers are also hyperlinked across all of the applications, making it possible to call with just one click. The new phones also offer SMS text messages and the ability to scroll through Web pages with one hand.

The operating system is also can access corporate functions and multimedia capabilities through its ActiveSync application when coupled with Microsoft back-end servers and services.

Orange's new phone is based on Texas Instruments' OMAP 720 chips, weighs less than a pound and is a triband GSM/GPRS device. There's a 176x220 64,000 color display with USB and MMC support, but no Bluetooth capability or support for MMS .

"With the SPV, we now are able to deliver a suite of advanced services well before the advent of third-generation networks, including photo messaging, advanced messaging services, video streaming and access to high-quality information and content, even across the Web," said Orange CEO Jean-Francois Pontal.

Microsoft said Mobile operators including AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless, Telefonica Moviles, Telstra Corporation, Vodafone Group, WIND, Hong Kong CSL Limited, Singapore Telecommunication Limited and Starhub also have agreed to provide support for Smartphone-based handsets on their networks or are currently involved in Smartphone trials.