Microsoft and Skype announce new software for Windows mobile phones

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Microsoft and Skype announce new software for Windows mobile phones

Both Microsoft and Skype made announcments at 3GSM demonstrating their commitment to Windows mobile phone devices. First, Microsoft Office Communicator now has a mobile version that extends the reach of Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005's real-time collaboration features to Windows Mobile-based devices. This is a smart move by Microsoft and could help them achieve more market penetration of the Live Communicator client, which has been very slow in my opinion, especially when compared to Skype.

The reason? Well, Live Communications Server is certainly more business-focused than Skype, which has a consumer-focus, giving Skype a distinct advantage. Skype achieved market penetration starting from the consumer and virally working its way into businesses, where as Live Communications Server is strictly targetting businesses, so it hasn't had the same "viral" effect that Skype has. However, if Microsoft can leverage good VoIP/IM/video software on mobile phones, which have a large consumer market (and businesses), this could give their Live Communications Server a big boost.

Also, if Microsoft can offer presence BOTH for your personal IM/voice/video username account and your business IM/voice/video username account, they can do some interesting things, including the ability to offer a unified communications client that displays both your personal buddy list and your business associates buddy list . Think of it like the popular GAIM client only this ties business and personal buddy lists. Also, since Live Communications Server is SIP-based it can integrate with a SIP/PSTN gateway for external calls similar to SkypeOut. Skype has been trying to foray into the business arena with their Skype for Business offering, but I'm not sure how successful that program has been. It has limited features such as account codes, ring multiple Skype accounts, and a web admin for managing your business's Skype users. Live Communications Server certainly has a stronger business penetration and stronger business features such as collaboration capabilities..

In any event, the second piece of news I wanted to share is that Skype released Skype for Pocket PC 2.0, a new software version for Pocket PC devices, as well as Windows Mobile-based devices such as the new HP iPAQ hw6900 that I blogged yesterday and which I already pointed out supports the Skype client. In fact, Skype for Pocket PC 2.0 (prior release was v1.1) enhances voice quality
and the number of devices supported by including Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC, more languages and adds support for 240x240 screens, such as the HP iPAQ hw6900.

Check out the news from both Microsoft and Skype...

BARCELONA, Spain - Feb. 14, 2006 - Today, during a keynote address at 3GSM World Conference 2006, Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corp., announced the upcoming availability of Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile for Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005. Based on the user interface of the Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 desktop client, Communicator Mobile is a unified communications client that provides information workers with a premier mobile collaboration experience through native integration of mobile applications with enterprise-grade, real-time communications tools. The client goes beyond simple voice services, incorporating connected communication modes such as security-enhanced instant messaging (IM), presence awareness and integrated Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony.

"Communicator Mobile is one of Microsoft's steps in extending Live Communications Server's capabilities to mobile devices, enabling companies to deploy IM and presence-enabled solutions that provide a consistent real-time communications experience across PCs and smart mobile devices," said Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president for the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft. "The new client is a key component of Microsoft's vision for unified communications, putting people at the center and enabling information workers to have access to real-time communications capabilities virtually anytime, anywhere, on any device."

Communicator Mobile's integration with Live Communications Server provides information workers with the advantages of rich presence information and security-enhanced, enterprise-grade IM for their mobile solutions. Deploying the Communicator Mobile client with Live Communications Server uncovers new mobile scenarios for information workers such as on-premise IM and presence on Windows Mobile-based devices using Wi-Fi networks, remote access to Live Communications Server systems over mobile phone networks, and remote access to enterprise collaboration resources from Wi-Fi hot spots or home networks.

"We have deployed Microsoft Office Live Communications Server to a key customer. Six months later we are extending the environment to allow even richer unified communications across multiple platforms," said Andy Kerr, head of strategy and innovation for IT and Media Operations at Siemens Business Services. "Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile will allow us to extend the value of Microsoft Office Communicator and Live Communications Server to our customers with Windows Mobile-based devices."

Communicator Mobile extends the power of real-time collaboration to Windows Mobile-based devices offered today by 102 mobile operators and 47 device manufacturers, including HP and Symbol Technologies, in 55 countries. The new client increases potential data revenue for mobile operators by driving demand for business-class devices with an enterprise-grade client, adding rich, real-time collaboration capabilities to mobile data networks. By providing rich information about peoples' availability, Communicator Mobile enables better call completion rates and, through support for Session Initial Protocol (SIP) and SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE), gives mobile operators more flexibility when building their infrastructures.

"Linklaters, a global law firm, has been using Live Communications Server since 2005 because it provides us with an enterprise-grade IM and presence platform that helps increase lawyers' productivity while keeping conversations over IM archived, logged and more secure," said Tim Warburton, information systems strategy consultant at Linklaters. "We are excited that the collaboration and security features we have become accustomed to in Live Communications Server will now be extended to mobile devices."

"Stand-alone systems for messaging, communications and collaboration are quickly converging, while at the same time information workers are spending more time away from their offices," said Irwin Lazar, senior analyst at Burton Group. "Now more than ever, presence is becoming an essential part of the communications infrastructure, giving customers choices and preferences for interacting with their co-workers. With Communicator Mobile, mobile users can set their presence information via their cell phone or engage in IM group chats from their handheld device, all the while controlling how their calls are routed."

Availability
Communicator Mobile is expected to be available for download for Live Communication Server customers within 60 days. More information is available from an account representative or at http://www.microsoft.com/rtc.

And the Skype News...
Luxembourg, Feb. 14, 2006- Skype, the global Internet communications company, today released Skype for Pocket PC 2.0, a new software version for Pocket PC devices that offers Skype callers the ability to enjoy Skype's free, high quality voice calls anywhere their device can connect to a high speed Internet connection, via Wi-Fi and 3G networks.Skype for Pocket PC 2.0 is a critical component of Skype's mobility strategy, supporting the goal of extending Skype use beyond the PC, and expanding the simplicity and convenience of Internet calling for the lives of millions of Skype users around the world.

"Skype for Pocket PC 2.0 delivers greater flexibility for callers who want to make free calls or chat without the need for a desktop PC," said Niklas Zennström, Skype CEO and co-founder. "Together with our efforts to incorporate Skype into mobile phones, this next generation version of Skype for Pocket PC devices extends the reach of our popular software to an even broader market segment."

Skype for Pocket PC 2.0 works on any Windows Mobile Pocket PC running Windows Mobile Pocket PC 2003 or Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC software with a 312+ MHz processor and equipped with an internal Wi-Fi or 3G (EDGE, EV-DO or UMTS) radio. For detailed requirements see skype.com/go/mobile.

Skype for Pocket PC 2.0 (prior release was v1.1) enhances voice quality and the number of devices supported by including Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC, more languages and 240x240 screens.Other key features and benefits include:
  • Skype to Skype and SkypeOut calls
  • Instant messaging
  • Presence, including: Online, offline, away, call forwarding, device not connected
  • Automatic synchronization of your Skype contact list between device and desktop
  • Voicemail
  • Making SkypeOut calls directly from the device phone book
  • Simplified contact search
  • Authorizing buddy requests and adding new contacts

Skype for Pocket PC will be available preloaded on a number of devices including Asus MyPal A636, BenQ P50, E-TEN M600, Dopod 700, i-mate PDA2, PDA2K, JASJAR and Qtek 9000 and 9090.

Skype for Pocket PC 2.0 is also supported bythe new HP iPAQ hw6900 series Mobile Messenger, a smart device providing customers with the ability to receive email wirelessly(1,2) using push-email functionality, introduced yesterday at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona.

"Bringing the Skype experience to our iPAQ customers is an exciting proposition," said John Brandewie, acting director of product marketing, Handheld Division, HP."Skype is a pioneer in the Internet calling space, and their innovative style is a great complement for HP's ongoing efforts to deliver rich mobile experiences and easy connectivity.

The following are some of the many Pocket PC devices that support Skype for Pocket PC 2.0:

Several HP iPAQ models including HP iPAQ hw6900 series Mobile Messenger, hx2400, hx2700, rx3700 and hx4700 series models
Dell X3i, X30, X50, X50v, x51 and x51v models
Fujitsu Siemens Computers Pocket LOOX N520, 718 and 720 models

Pricing and Availability
Skype for Pocket PC 2.0 is available now as a free download from skype.com/go/mobile. Skype for Pocket PC will also be available on Handango (www.handango.com), the leading provider of mobile content.



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