Microsoft sets up wireless portal, buys OmniBrowse

Microsoft has launched a Web portal for users of wireless, handheld devices and said it has acquired OmniBrowse, a wireless-data services company, to help speed up its wireless portal strategy.

Microsoft has launched a portal for users of wireless, handheld devices and said it has acquired OmniBrowse, a wireless-data services company, to help speed up its wireless portal strategy.

Portals are Web sites that compile a wide variety of content, services and links to other sites. Microsoft's new portal, dubbed MSN Mobile, will let users receive personalised content via their interactive pagers and cellphones. Starting today, consumers can sign up for MSN Mobile on the Microsoft Network (MSN) Web site, MSN.com.

Microsoft also announced its purchase of OmniBrowse, which makes applications for interactive pagers, cellular phones, handheld computers and other wireless handheld devices. OmniBrowse's suite of services for delivering content to wireless devices has been incorporated into MSN Mobile, Microsoft said. No information was disclosed on the acquisition price.

The moves follow Microsoft's announcement in May of its wireless portal plans, when the company simultaneously announced a deal with Nextel Communications. Microsoft invested $US600 million in the wireless content provider, and said it would offer its wireless portal service to Nextel's 3.15 million customers. It also said it would seek deals with other wireless content providers.

When fully developed, MSN Mobile will include services such as e-mail, address books and calendar features from Microsoft's Web-based e-mail service, Hotmail, Microsoft said. It will also include content from other parts of MSN, such as news, sports and weather from MSNBC and stock updates from the MSN MoneyCentral personal finance online service.

The services are based on industry standards and will be accessible by devices such as Microsoft's Pocket Internet Explorer for Windows CE (Microsoft's operating system for handheld devices). An updated version of MSN Mobile is scheduled to be available later this year in conjunction with the next major upgrade of MSN.com.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.microsoft.com. The wireless portal can be found at http://mobile.msn.com/.

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