Microsoft gives Exchange a push

3GSM: Microsoft is challenging RIM with its own push email service, and Vodafone is already onboard

Microsoft is aiming to gain share the mobile email market at the expense of Research In Motion (RIM), with a service that will automatically send email out to employees' mobile devices from the corporate mail server as it arrives.

The software giant has formed partnerships with Vodafone and Cingular Wireless, which are expected to be announced at the 3GSM World Summit in Barcelona.

Under the plan, companies who have deployed devices running on Windows Mobile 5.0, Microsoft's latest mobile operating system, will be able to push new messages straight to them. The service relies on Microsoft's Direct Push technology, which runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 with Microsoft's Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 at the back end.

Vodafone said on Monday morning it hopes to launch a push email service based on Microsoft's software in March this year, aimed at corporate customers and small firms in the UK, Germany and France. This service will be rolled out to other countries during 2006.

"Mobile email is a simple, security-enhanced and easy to set up service which enables customers to remain productive, responsive and organised when out of the office" said Peter Bamford, chief marketing officer at Vodafone, in a statement.

Pieter Knook, senior vice-president for Microsoft's mobile and embedded devices division, added that "It's an exciting time for companies who are now realising the true business potential of mobile solutions for both the business and for their employees."

It's unclear whether Vodafone plans to stop offering its existing push-email service, Vodafone Business Email, which it updated last November.