Microsoft moving Outlook to cell phones

Microsoft plans to ship filtering and forwarding technology to enable mobile users to selectively manage Outlook from mobile devices

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By  Jon Tullett Published  February 13, 2001

With mobile Internet access pegged as the next big driver of ‘net growth, Microsoft is positioning products to establish a firm foothold in the niche. The vendor is poised to release Outlook Mobile Manager and the Mobile Information Server, which provide filtering and forwarding of email to mobile devices.

By learning a user’s email habits, OMM develops filters to evaluate the likely urgency of email and other Outlook entries such as calendar events, and can forward those marked with top priority to remote devices such as mobile phones, based on usage rules.

Part of the software is Microsoft’s IntelliShrink technology, which provides a means of parsing text and compressing it. Common words and phrases can be reduced to abbreviations, such as condensing “are you” to “R U”. Superfluous spacing is reduced, and words can be contracted by removing vowels. While this might lose some legibility, the advantage of being able to retrieve vital messages on the go may make up for it. Messages can also be split into pieces and read sequentially.

Using Mobile Manager with Mobile Information 2001 Server will offer management tools to enable advanced message formatting, secure message forwarding to mobile devices and mobile access to information on corporate intranet sites, Microsoft says. The combination also gives mobile users full desktop email functionality, including the ability to browse, reply, forward, compose and delete email on any mobile phone with a micro-browser.

Mobile Manager will also be integrated with the upcoming release of Office XP, the newest version of Microsoft’s suite of productivity tools and programs, due for release later this year.

Both Outlook Mobile Manager and the Mobile Information Server are scheduled for release to manufacturing at the end of April. In the meanwhile, a beta is available from http://www.microsoft.com/outlook/mobile

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