Microsoft stakes claim on mobile market

Encourages developers to write more Windows-based applications as it ramps up smartphone plans for assault on Symbian…
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

Encourages developers to write more Windows-based applications as it ramps up smartphone plans for assault on Symbian…

Microsoft's share of the mobile market will be boosted by new tools for developers and easing of manufacturing restrictions on devices, the company claimed at its TechEd conference in Barcelona today. The company is battling with the Nokia-backed Symbian platform, which currently dominates the market, and recent reports by analysts Ovum and IDC predicted that dominance to continue for the next three to four years at least. Speaking to silicon.com at TechEd, Peter Wissinger, European enterprise marketing manager for the mobile division at Microsoft, said new types of devices and new applications running on Windows will dramatically change the way people use PDAs and mobile phones. "What we've seen from the Orange SPV rollout is that Windows mobile devices are introducing new usage patterns within both the consumer and business space. These devices drive new behaviour and new traffic. We're pretty confident we're on the right track." T-Mobile dropped its launch in May of a Windows-based smartphone because of "fundamental problems" but Wissinger said the device has not been scrapped and will come out. "We are absolutely committed, both of us, to launching a smartphone and the latest services that will go with it. With T-Mobile it is more a question of timing. I can't predict on exact dates but that would be my guess, this calendar year." Microsoft has eased restrictions on mobile manufacturers in an effort to boost the range of devices on offer to consumers and businesses. Wissinger said: "We've relaxed the restrictions we had on screen size and we've included support for keyboard integration. We can now have more phone-looking Pocket PCs so you’ll have a whole new device range coming out in the next couple of months. You will see integrated cameras, smaller phones, and clam shells as well. It’s choice that is the critical thing here." He said this combined with the Compact Framework for its Visual Studio.Net developer tools will make it easier and more attractive for programmers write compelling applications for Windows-based mobile market. Microsoft's figures show there is growing business usage of smartphones and Pocket PCs. There are currently 600 certified applications for Windows mobile devices and business productivity software accounts for almost a third of those. Home and education applications and games make up the rest, said Wissinger.
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