TELECOM 99: Microsoft launches mobile onslaught

In a renewed effort to supply technology to the telecommunications industry, Microsoft has announced that it will launch new products and services for mobile telephone carriers, designed to provide mobile access to data for end users.

The announcement, made here at Telecom 99, is the first of what is expected to be a week of Microsoft promoting its mobile telecommunications technologies, including its microbrowser for mobile phones and new handheld devices and internet capabilities for its Windows CE operating system.

During the show, Microsoft will be "looking to convey significant additional capabilities," on the part of its mobile communications technology, said Jonathan Usher, telecommunications marketing manager for Microsoft, in an interview here.

To start off the week, Microsoft announced version 3.5 of its Internet Cellular Smart Access (ICSA) software, a by-product of its July purchase of Swedish GSM specialist, Sendit AB. The software, based on Windows NT Back Office and aimed at cellular operators, will ship in the first quarter of 2000, said Usher.

The latest version of the Sendit software is compliant with WAP (wireless application protocol) and is designed to enable cellular operators worldwide to offer their customers easy-to-use mobile internet services, Usher said. ICSA 3.5 will provide microbrowser access to e-mail and the ability for mobile phone users to consolidate multiple Internet e-mail accounts, Microsoft officials said.

In addition, the latest version of the software also includes new cost-control features for users of pre-paid mobile accounts. Another new feature is the support for Chinese characters, Microsoft said.

The software will also offer e-mail and SMS (short message service) functions for non-WAP phones.

Because it's based on Windows NT Back Office, ICSA offers a cheaper and faster route to offering WAP services for carriers, said Usher. "We believe it is cost effective and highly scalable," he said.

Microsoft also announced that it is demonstrating a live link with Swiss mobile provider diAX at the Microsoft stand at the show.

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