Extended Expands Mobile Groupware

Wireless e-mail software provider Extended Systems is bolstering its OneBridge Mobile Groupware platform for the enterprise, but faces competition from RIM and Microsoft.

Extended Systems Inc. is aiming to bolster its OneBridge Mobile Groupware platform with new features to support large enterprises, but some of the companys customers are starting to look elsewhere.

Version 5.0, to be released this week, comes as Extended Systems faces competition in the wireless e-mail market, not only from the likes of Research In Motion Ltd. and Good Technology Inc. but also from Microsoft Corp., which is readying updates to its Exchange platform and its Windows Mobile smart-phone operating system.

The updates from Microsoft will let an Exchange server push corporate e-mail data to Windows Mobile-based devices without middleware from third-party companies.

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Among the new features in OneBridge Mobile Groupware 5.0 is a tool that allows IT administrators to monitor the health of the OneBridge environment through a Web console.

With the OneBridge Monitoring Service tool, agents can detect outages within seconds, take corrective actions automatically and notify IT administrators, said Extended Systems officials in Boise, Idaho.

The upgrade did not come soon enough for Russell Investment Group, in Tacoma, Wash., said Greg Nelson, senior technology consultant. Russell, which has been using OneBridge for three years for its nearly 500 users, has decided to migrate to Good Technologys product.

"We saw a decline in product quality, massive changes internally and an exodus of staff [at Extended Systems] that we saw as critical," said Nelson.

"They started out with a good product, and they brought good things, like device independence, but they have not executed on it as they continued to evolve."

In Version 5.0, Extended Systems, which has touted extensive device support as one of its key strengths, also adds support for the widely used Symbian Ltd. Series 60 devices and the forthcoming Windows Mobile 5.0-based handsets.

For users, Version 5.0 improves battery consumption on mobile devices, uses native e-mail applications already on devices to free space for other applications and automates the configuration of users network settings.

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