NEW YORK--As Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of its Mobile Information Server 2002 Enterprise Edition last week, company officials said the company plans to cut the wireless access server from its product line next year.
In its place, Microsoft plans to integrate wireless access capabilities into Exchange via the Outlook Mobile Access feature (which is in MIS 2002).
At the same time, the company will include wireless security features in its Internet Security and Acceleration Server. Microsoft will continue to sell Mobile Internet Toolkit to developers.
"The plan is to phase out MIS as a stand-alone product and put [wireless access] into products where it makes the most sense," Chuck Sabin, product manager for the .Net Enterprise Systems Group, said at Internet World Wireless here.
Microsofts wireless middleware platform has been under a cloud since the company began touting it a year and a half ago to carriers and enterprise customers. Carriers in general were slow to pick up on any wireless enterprise strategy. Enterprise customers that wanted to support myriad devices and applications were wary of Microsofts tendency to support only its own products. To wit, MIS 2002 focuses on devices that run on Pocket PC.
"[MIS] is just part of .Net," said Tommer Catlin, management IS director of Webcor Technologies Inc., in San Mateo, Calif., which uses Palm OS devices and Workstyle server software from Wireless Knowledge Inc. Besides supporting multiple devices, Wireless Knowledge supports Lotus Notes and Exchange. Microsoft co-founded Wireless Knowledge with Qualcomm Corp. but sold its shares in the company in November after it became clear that the Workstyle server and MIS competed head-to-head.
MIS customers agreed that Microsofts plans make sense, especially since Microsoft was only supporting its own applications with MIS.
"I think that any future integration and further collapsing of services into one full-featured package will make our environment easier to support," said John Prince, core technology manager of connectivity at Conoco Inc., in Houston. "Fewer points of administration, etc., will enhance the management and security models for any company."
Still, Microsoft intends to keep selling MIS as a stand-alone product for the rest of this year. The reason? Companies with no wireless strategy will at least be able to get started before Microsoft starts integrating wireless capabilities into its applications next year.
The company has enlisted the help of two of its operating system licensees, Compaq Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co., to sell MIS. Compaq Global Services will offer installation and startup services for MIS, as well as package deals wherein customers can buy MIS along with large numbers of iPaq handheld devices. HP, meanwhile, offers HP Express Services for MIS, which enables companies to conduct 60-day pilots of MIS, preferably with HP Jornada handheld devices.
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