Microsoft still isn't ready to talk about the next major releases of its Windows Mobile operating system ("Photon," a k a Windows Mobile 6.X and/or Windows Mobile 7).
Instead, at this week's CTIA Wireless show, Microsoft is touting as its big announcement a new management product aimed at business users who want to do bulk provisioning of Windows Mobile smartphones. The new product, System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008, sounds like it will be ready to ship around the time the next mystery release of Windows Mobile hits. SCMDM will allow admins to set up Windows Mobile devices over the air and set group policies for specific individuals and groups inside of a company.
To me, however, the more interesting CTIA-timed announcement from Microsoft is that the company is now allowing users to sign up for Windows Live IDs from their cell phones, not just their PCs. With more and more users, especially overseas in developing nations using their mobile devices as their main/only "computers," the move makes a lot of sense.
Phil Holden, director of Microsoft’s Online Services Group Mobile Services, explained the background of the Windows Live ID announcement:
"As we look at our customers today its clear that almost all of the folks that use our services on the mobile phone first started to use them on a PC, be that messenger, hotmail, spaces etc. As they started to rely on the services they started to use them on the mobile phone. They can sign-in using the same account, with the same contact store and it just worked on the mobile phone like it should. For countries where the PC is the primary computing device that's great, however for folks that don't have access to a PC everyday, often going days without a visit to an Internet Cafe they were out of luck. Not much point in creating an email account when you could only get to it once every week, stick with sms as your primary way to chat with your friends....
"Moving forward this sign-up will be integrated into our client based services like Windows Live for Nokia so for customers that go and purchase a Nokia device later this year they will be able to create an account directly on the phone."
Microsoft's latest move with Windows Live ID is just one more step toward Microsoft fulfilling the Windows Live Core mission of enabling users to synchronize their contacts, settings, photos, e-mail, documents, music and video across all their computing devices.