Microsoft Expected to Sign Up Motorola for Mobile OS

Microsoft Corp. and Motorola are said to be cooking up a deal on operating system software for a new generation of mobile handsets.

The deal, reported first in The Financial Times, is expected to be announced in the coming days, and is the first major contract Microsoft has signed with a leading phone device manufacturer for its mobile operating system.

Josh Kerwin, spokesman for Microsoft, said Microsoft “has not made any announcements regarding new handset partnerships for the Windows mobile operating system.”

A spokesman for Motorola was unavailable.

The FT report said Microsoft would launch a new phone with Motorola, the world’s
second leading handset maker, this month. Orange, France Telecom’s
mobile phone unit, will be marketing the phone to its customers in the near future. Reuters also confirmed the deal with officials at France Telecom.

The deal would be no small victory for Microsoft, which is bidding on several contracts to provide its mobile operating system to a variety of handset manufacturers. Microsoft is competing with Symbian and Palm Source
, which have also developed operating systems that will
run applications and services on a range of next generation mobile devices.

Symbian, the mobile device operating system consortium led by the world’s leading handset manufacturer Nokia , is being challenged by Microsoft as both companies bid on major contracts with smart phone handset manufacturers
around the world.

Microsoft’s expected deal with Motorola comes only days after Motorola decided to shed its stake in the Symbian consortium, saying it would focus on Java
technology and Linux, hardly a ringing endorsement of Microsoft’s

And the software giant has run into problems with its mobile operating system. Recently, T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom’s mobile unit, said it would be delaying the launch of its Microsoft-powered handset because of some technical glitches.

Motorola, despite its investment in the Symbian venture, has said it will continue to make phones, based on the Symbian operating system. Clearly, with its deal with Microsoft coupled with its endorsements of Sun Microsystems Java technology and Linux, the Chicago-based handset giant is diversifying its options, without being wedded to any particular technology and with relationships with a variety of software kernels for mobile systems.

Other handset manufacturers will be making strategic engineering
decisions regarding which mobile operating system to use inside their devices.

Korea’s Samsung, the third largest mobile handset manufacturer, is working with both Microsoft and Symbian, and the direction it goes will signal, which mobile OS is winning with device makers.

Orange, in a statement, said it would conclude deals with Microsoft to develop new Windows Mobile-based Smartphones.

Taiwanese companies HTC Corp. and Mitac International Corp. are also
manufacturing smart phones running Microsoft’s operating system software.

On September 4, reported the Samsung i600 Smartphone and Samsung i700 Pocket PC Phone will soon be sold by Verizon Wireless in Irvine, California. The report says the i600 will be offered by Verizon by the end of 2003.

The CDMA-based phone, however, does not have a built-in camera or Bluetooth technology in it. The report goes onto say it is rumored to run old operating system too: Microsoft Smartphone 2002, instead of up to date Smartphone 2003 software. The report says it looks like Samsung will deliver Microsoft smart phone for CDMA to US market and Symbian smart phone for GSM to European/Asian markets.

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