Wintel is going wireless.
At the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes this week, Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. announced that they are teaming up on reference designs for personal digital assistants and advanced mobile phones.
The reference designs, due later this year, will include operating system software from Microsoft that supports both cell phones and PDAs and semiconductors from Intel. Both companies have been targeting wireless customers for more than a year, but this is the first time they have combined forces to build a wireless product.
The Wintel duopoly is best-known in the PC space.
Analysts said that Intel is strong in the mobility space, but not necessarily in the wireless space.
"Intels biggest thing that they do for mobility is flash memory, and thats important," said Phillip Redman, an analyst at Gartner Group, a Stamford, Conn., consultancy. "But Intel doesnt do much on the radio side."
Indeed, officials acknowledged that the Wintel reference design does not yet include a radio. Ed Suwanjindar, product manager for the mobility group at Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., said that the radios for the reference design would likely come from a third party.
Meanwhile, Texas Instruments Inc. and Microsoft are marketing a reference design that uses Microsofts Microsofts Smartphone 2002 software (previously known by its code name, Stinger) on top of TIs OMAP processors. This reference design will include a radio.
"The TI one is further along because weve been working on it for several years," Suwanjindar said.
Microsoft also at the show officially announced a version of its Pocket PC platform that supports integrated voice and data. The Pocket PC Phone Edition will appear later this year in hardware from traditional Microsoft licensees, including Hewlett-Packard Co., which will support the operating system in an upcoming device called the HP Jornada 928 Wireless Digital Assistant, which will run on a processor from TI.
Microsoft so far has had better luck winning licensees in the PDA space than in the phone space. Compaq Computer Corp., HP and 20 other companies license the Pocket PC platform. The company has had less luck with Smartphone 2002, the operating system it designed specifically for Smartphones.
The Big Three phone players--Motorola Inc., Ericsson AB and Nokia Corp.--are notably missing from the short list of Smartphone 2002 supporters. These companies also provide infrastructure hardware to wireless carriers. Analysts say that these three players are likely to keep Wintel from becoming too much of a wireless threat.
"Everything has to come through Motorola, Nokia and Ericsson," Gartners Redman said. "A lot of the sales are going to go through the infrastructure providers and device manufacturers that the carriers have always gone through."