The new services will provide new search and communications capabilities to help people more easily and efficiently access information from their mobile devices, while allowing mobile operators, OEMs and advertising partners to drive new revenue and differentiate their products in the market, Matt Champagne, director of Mobile Product Management for MSN and Windows Live, told eWEEK.
Live Search on Windows Mobile and Live Search on Java, which are now available as free, downloadable software client applications for Windows Mobile and Java devices in the United States and United Kingdom, bring advanced local search and mapping capabilities to customers.
The beta of this client was released in the United States in November 2006, "but we got such a positive response to the beta that we are now taking the beta tag off. I dont think we have ever had such a fast beta turnaround," Champagne said.
These new search offerings provide customers with fast, easy access to local listings and maps, and a category-based search, which eliminates the need to type text into the phone, he said.
"It also supports rich maps and directions, which have been extended to include satellite imagery, and GPS integration. Users can also, with one click, save results to contacts, map directions to and from specific locations, search nearby, click-to-call, or map all locations," he said.
They can also access aerial imagery, as well as local traffic status in some U.S. cities, which are reported on local maps with simple green, red and yellow gradients.
Darcie de Freitas, product manager of Live Search for Mobile, told eWEEK that the goal was to make it faster and easier for users to find and view things.
"The new category search feature lets users browse directly to a listing by choosing a category such as restaurants, hotels, transportation and the like. They can then drill down further within these categories to get a list with contact information and addresses," she said.
The service will be available to British and American customers using Windows Mobile devices, Nokia Series 40 and Series 60 devices, the Motorola RAZR/SLVR family, and assorted LG and Samsung devices.
A complete list of available devices can be found here.
Live Search for Mobile provides partners and advertisers with the opportunity to drive new revenues through demand for data plans and new devices as well as mobile advertising through sponsored links presented in the search results.
"We are already generating revenue through advertising in the local browse experience in the United States today, where the advert is presented in the search results as a sponsored link. The model is to share that advertising revenue with partners," De Freitas said. "However, we have not been broadly evangelizing this opportunity with OEM and operator partners as yet, since we are just getting ready to launch. But some have already been calling us," she said.
The third service, Windows Live for Windows Mobile, is a set of integrated Windows Live services including e-mail, instant messaging, search and Windows Live Spaces, designed to work with devices powered by the newly released Windows Mobile 6. A downloadable solution will follow later for Windows Mobile 5, Champagne said.
While the service will work on any device running Windows Mobile 6, and will be made available as a download and through mobile operators, Microsoft does not have any specific deployments to announce at the show, he said.
"These services will be delivered as a single application, which has a presence-enabled and actionable consolidated contact list, giving customers access to all their Windows Live, Microsoft Outlook and other contacts, as well as the relevant presence information. This service offers the first industry example of a single integrated and presence-enabled contact list on a mobile device," Champagne said.
Customers will also now be able to communicate via voice and text and send and receive pictures within Messenger, Shanti Garman, product manager for MSN Mobile and Live Search for Mobile, told eWEEK.
Microsofts mail service for mobile devices also allows consumers to manage their Windows Live Mail or Hotmail accounts from virtually anywhere, and to view graphics and Web links in HTML in their e-mail messages. Push mail technology also sends new e-mail messages directly to devices over the air, she said.
Live Search also lets customers search the Web for news, local businesses or entertainment, directions, maps, images and more. Results display in easy-to-read categories and include click-to-call capabilities, Champagne said.
With Windows Live Spaces for Mobile—Microsofts global blogging and photo service for mobile devices—customers can access links to other peoples spaces within contact cards, and can send photos and videos directly to their spaces from a mobile device.
"We are currently not looking at advertising on this particular client, as our model at this time is channel-driven through the carriers, who then monetize it to consumers," he said.
Microsoft is also enabling development opportunities with open APIs and a partner and developer program. "The Windows Live Developer Program provides SDKs, testing guidelines and support to ISVs to develop solutions for Windows Mobile, Java, Symbian or Palm devices and deploy them with mobile operators," Champagne said.