Microsoft continues Symbian fight with launch of Windows Mobile 6

Microsoft yesterday launched its latest mobile Windows operating system - Windows Mobile 6 - at 3GSM in Barcelona, with which it aims to continue stealing market share from industry leader Symbian.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  February 13, 2007

Microsoft yesterday launched its latest mobile Windows operating system - Windows Mobile 6 - at 3GSM World Congress 2007 in Barcelona, Spain, with which it aims to continue stealing market share from industry leader Symbian. Described by the software giant as “the world’s fastest-growing mobile operating system”, Windows Mobile is a compact version of Microsoft’s Windows OS, designed specifically for use on PDA and smartphone (a.k.a. ‘converged’) handheld devices. This time around, in addition to evolving Windows Mobile’s look and feel more towards that of Microsoft's new Vista desktop OS, Microsoft also claims to have improved the platform’s usability and has added support for Microsoft Office features previously available only on PCs. “A work force that is both mobile and connected is becoming essential for business success,” said Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer. “That’s why we’re integrating innovative mobile technologies into all our key products, with Windows Mobile as the centrepiece.” Windows Mobile 6 allows users to view their e-mails in their original rich HTML format, with live links to web and Microsoft SharePoint sites. This means that text and images are displayed as they would be on a PC, available from a corporate e-mail server such as Exchange Server 2007, from web-based accounts such as Windows Live Hotmail, or from a myriad of other popular service providers. Windows Mobile 6 also includes Windows Live for Windows Mobile, which provides customers with a rich set of Windows Live services. For example, through Windows Live Messenger, people can now chat with more than one person at one time, express themselves through animated figures, quickly send a file or image, or record and send voice notes. This new version of the platform also offers the fullest Microsoft Office experience to date, with mobile versions of Office Outlook, Office Word, Office Excel and Office PowerPoint included, allowing users to view, navigate and edit Word documents and Excel spreadsheets in their original formatting, without affecting tables, images or text, plus PowerPoint presentations can be viewed on Mobile 6 devices. All Windows Mobile 6 powered devices also include Direct Push Technology for up-to-date ‘push’ e-mail delivery and the automatic synchronisation of Outlook calendars, tasks and contacts via Microsoft Exchange Server. The first Windows Mobile 6 powered devices are expected to hit the market during the second quarter of this year. According to the latest handheld report by research house IDC, Microsoft’s worldwide converged mobile device shipments grew 135.3% (year-on-year) during 2006, resulting in IDC’s expectation that Windows Mobile will experience the largest growth of any mobile operating system worldwide, approximately 75.6% percent, from now until the year 2010. A key advantage of Windows Mobile, according to IDC’s senior analyst and report author, Philip Solis, is its enterprise focus, in that it syncs well with Microsoft Exchange Server, which is widely deployed in businesses. However Symbian – as used by Nokia’s mid- and high-end devices - remains the ‘smartphone’ operating system of choice in terms of its global market share. According to Solis, its main advantages are that it is easy to build applications for and thus has a large developer community. Quoted in the aforementioned IDC report, the program director of IDC's Mobile Enterprise programs, Stephen Drake, predicted: "The mobile device operating system market will continue to be led by Symbian, which will maintain its majority share within the converged mobile device market."

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