Microsoft, Vodafone Strike Pact for Mobile Web Standards

Microsoft Corp. said it has struck a deal with Vodafone
to work together on standards for the emerging market for mobile Web
services.

The plan announced Monday in Geneva at the International Telecommunications
Union’s Telecom World 2003 conference is aimed at software developers who are working on a variety of different applications. At issue are the standards that are embedded in those applications, including messaging, location, authentication and billing details.

“Microsoft continues to play an active role in supporting open standards and
interoperability in the telecommunications industry. This, combined with our
push for unified developer tools and an open execution environment, will
enable Web services to flourish,” said Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, speaking in Geneva.

While Microsoft is lining up partners for mobile Web service standards, it
is also at odds with Symbian, a consortium also focused on next generation
mobile Web services made up of several of the software giant’s competitors.

There are already two other groups working on mobile Web service standards,
including the Open Mobile Alliance and The Parlay Group.

The Parlay Group said it is an “open multi-vendor consortium formed to
develop open technology-independent application programming interfaces
(APIs) enabling: technology, Internet and eBusiness companies, independent
software vendors (ISVs), software developers, network device vendors and
providers, service bureaus, application service providers (ASPs),
application suppliers, and large and small enterprises to develop
applications and technology solutions that operate across multiple
networking platform environments.”

There are widespread concerns within the mobile handset and software
industry that Microsoft will leverage their predominance in the PC desktop
and laptop markets into the emerging market for mobile Web services on a new
generation of wireless devices.

Vodafone has been a leading supporter of the Liberty Alliance, and the group
actually competes directly with Microsoft’s Passport system for providing
common technology for identifying Web users. Sun Microsystems is a leading proponent of The Liberty Alliance along with close to 30
other IT vendors.

While XML is not tied to any one operating system or programming language,
it appears Microsoft is keen to incorporate XML into its standards designs.

“The two companies also shared an outline of their vision to help create
mobile Web services standards that would utilize existing standard
Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based Web services architecture,” Microsoft
and Vodafone said in a joint statement.

Both Microsoft and Vodafone said they would provide more details about their
plans for XML-based mobile Web service standards at the Microsoft
Professional Developers Conferences planned for later this month in Los
Angeles.

In Geneva, besides detailing its plans with Vodafone for mobile Web
standards, Microsoft also said its Mobile Devices Division unveiled the
latest phone in the Orange Signature device line, known as the SPV E200. The
company said the device is “the world’s first Windows Mobile-based
Smartphone with integrated camera and Bluetooth.”

Microsoft went onto detail its wireless provisioning services (WPS) technology which it calls “a standards-based and integrated platform that enables wireless Internet service providers to easily provision and manage
their Wi-Fi hot spots. WPS also allows users of Windows XP to easily detect
and connect to Wi-Fi hot spots via a seamless signup process, and it enables
more secure Wi-Fi hot spot access without the need for browser-based
deployment.

Microsoft also said it is working with Swisscom AG “to bring to market
enterprise mobile data solutions that combine the power of Windows and the
Microsoft .NET Platform with the convenience and reliability of wireless
broadband services from Swisscom Eurospot and Swisscom Mobile.”

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