Make Mine Mobile: Microsoft

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft is approaching the mobile
market with fresh eyes this week with the introduction of its
second-generation mobile developer platform.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software vendor on Wednesday said its new Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition software
piggybacks on its other next generation platforms – most notably the
Visual Studio 2005 developer’s tool (codenamed Whidbey) as well as its
upcoming SQL Server 2005 (codenamed Yukon). The company also launched a
$100,000 Mobile2Market contest as an incentive to get developers to write
Windows-based apps, with the promise of Microsoft-aided promotion and
distribution. The goal, according to the guys in Microsoft’s trenches, is to
convince coders that smart clients are more than just unwired PDAs or
personal computers.

The company also updated its Windows Mobile Developer Resource Kit, which
includes eight new white papers focused on Windows Mobile development,
new and updated code samples, Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition emulators,
embedded Visual C++ 4.0 SP3, and Windows Mobile 2003 SDKs.

“I have a confession… We [at Microsoft] haven’t done enough,” Microsoft
Software Design Engineer Chris Anderson said to attendees at the company’s
Mobile Developer Conference here. “We have tools today that are good… We’re
going to keep investing in this, adding features each year.”

Microsoft said that based on the feedback on its original Mobile platform and
subsequent builds, the company is most excited about reducing the amount of
coding that developers would have to do to produce an application and get it
running.

“The common theme here is that this type of development takes about two
developers working a couple of weeks, and the most work that they do is to
leverage back-end infrastructure,” Microsoft .NET Product Manager Jonathan
Wells told internetnews.com.

Wells said Microsoft’s hook with developers and their bosses is that
there is continuity between the Windows environments from desktop to server
to mobile client. The luxury of already working under the .NET coding and
linking the Visual Studio to the mobile space, Microsoft says, is that it
allows them to offer a “Click Once” tab function that inserts pre-bundled
code; brings back “COM interop” for devices; and adds new ability to
attach to remote processes. The new version of the Windows Mobile
development platform also supports ATL 8.0, MFC 8.0, an ARM chip design
emulator and a native debugger.

“The IDE also allows you to write the code and not have to worry about
whether the data is being viewed in profile or landscape mode,” Anderson
said.

Such is the case with the Motorola MPx smartphone series and similar
offerings from Microsoft PocketPC/smartphone partners like Samsung.

The giant obstacle that Microsoft has at this point is that Nokia , which runs J2ME as well as its Series 60 platform on top of the
Symbian OS, makes the majority of the cell phones in the marketplace. Wells said that while Microsoft is somewhat behind the curve with deployments, the
“giant” mass of mobile developers and decision makers is yawning and waking
up to Microsoft’s pervasiveness. Wells points to some 24,000 rollouts of
PocketPC applications and some 40 case studies in Microsoft’s back pocket.

“Our goal this week is to raise that awareness,” said Wells, who also
noted that his group is getting interest from developers coming from the C#
and Visual Basic camps. “If you run a J2ME app, you take the risk of it not
running everywhere unless you write to the lowest common denominator.”

Microsoft is expected to include the mobile community in its upcoming
Visual Studio 2005 Community Technology Preview. The program announced this
week would give developers a sneak peek at builds and give them an
opportunity to provide feedback. The developer community also can get support from OpenNETCF.org under the Microsoft Shared Source license.

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