Microsoft makes push email push

Software giant makes long awaited move into mobile email market dominated by BlackBerry

Steve Malone
13 Feb 2006

Software giant Microsoft is launching its long awaited assault on the push email market with a series of announcements. Along with the long awaited release of its push email software, the company has signed a number of deals with some of the major players in mobile technology including Vodafone and T-Mobile.

A number of mobile telcos including Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone will be offering free upgrades to the Messaging and Security Feature Pack (MSFP) for all their Windows Mobile 5.0 users that will bring Direct Push email, improved device management and security for messaging applications to their handsets. Palm says it will also offer a free MSFP upgrade.

Microsoft's move into the market comes at a time when the market leader Research In Motion is distracted with its long running lawsuit with NTP over copyright infringement.

Making the announcements at the international GSM Show in Barcelona, Microsoft has slotted its various technologies together to offer a comprehensive mobile email solution to companies with Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 and Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 2. Building on its formidable strengths on the desktop, Microsoft says the Direct Push e-mail service is designed for anyone familiar with Microsoft Office. E-mails and tasks can be synchronised directly from Outlook, and Microsoft Office Excel Mobile and Word Mobile attachments can be viewed, edited and returned.

Vodafone will be introducing a number of email-enabled devices incorporating Windows Mobile 5.0 and Direct Push Technology. The service, which is to be known as Windows Mobile Email from Vodafone, will be rolled out in the UK, Germany and Spain. Microsoft has signed a similar deal with T-Mobile which will launch direct push email services on Windows Mobile-based devices in the Netherlands.

The announcements could not come at a better time for Microsoft. RIM's legal battles have not only distracted the company but customer confidence in the US has been shaken by the prospect of the service being cut off. RIM has announced that it has developed a workaround to avoid the disputed patent, although US customers may be forced to download new software onto their BlackBerries.

Microsoft's move is also coming at a time when the market for mobile email is about to take off. According to analysts Gartner, by the end of 2006 there will be at least 16 million business and consumer users of mobile email. It is expected that by the end of 2008, half of all employees who access e-mail via PCs will also have access to wireless e-mail.

Pictured is a new Windows Mobile-based device from HP - the HP iPAQ hw6900 Mobile Messenger - which was unveiled yesterday and will ship with the Direct Push technology.

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