Microsoft Mobilizes Bronx

Microsoft is readying "project Bronx," an addition to its Office Live services lineup that will target mobile devices.

The technology could be released to beta later in May, according to a posted message on the Web site.

A Neowin poster described Project Bronx as "an effort within the Mobile Information Worker group that aims to bring Microsoft Office experience to all mobile phones using SMS [Short Message Service]."

The poster said that Microsoft is soliciting testers for the technology, which will be part of the companys Office Live initiative.

On the Windows Live side of the business, Microsoft has introduced some services, such as Windows Live Search Mobile, that are being designed for cell phone and PDA users.

In a prepared statement, a Microsoft spokesperson said, "Project Bronx is one of a number of efforts to deliver new productivity value in the 2007 Microsoft Office system. While it is related to mobile technologies and SMS, we are in the process of mapping out all the details and will have more information to share in the future."

SMS is a wireless service enabling messages to be sent between mobile subscribers and external systems such as e-mail and voice mail systems.

Last fall, Microsoft testers said the company was hinting about new Office 12 technologies it was planning to introduce for mobile devices.

While he said he had not heard about Project Bronx specifically, Directions on Microsoft analyst Matt Rosoff said he could see Microsoft introducing "some sort of SMS tie to Live Communications Server and Exchange, and perhaps the ability to sign up for some kind of alert in Office Live" that could send a text message to a user when a certain task is completed.

"But its hard to imagine much outside of these basic communications and alert scenarios," Rosoff said in Kirkland, Wash.

In related news, on May 8, Microsoft officials said they have completed the first major update to the Office Live beta code the company delivered in February. Among the new functionalities added to the Office Live beta is support for Office Outlook Connector in the Office Live Essentials SKU. Microsoft also is providing monthly activity reports to testers of its Office Live Basics, Office Live Collaboration and Office Live Essentials releases. The reports will provide statistics on storage and bandwidth use; unique visitors and page views; and referring domains.

Office Live Tunes in to Users

Office Lives first major update includes enhancements suggested by customers. For example:

Essentials now fully supports Office Outlook Connector

* Many users asked for a greater ability to take their Office Live e-mail and calendars offline

* In-boxes now have e-mail, contacts and calendar access enabled for Office Outlook Connector

* Office Outlook Connector will allow users to read and write e-mails and access their contacts and calendars using their personal Outlook Owners will now receive a monthly Activity Report

* Customers expressed a desire to see key site statistics at a glance versus having to go out to the Office Live Member Center

* Owners will receive a monthly Activity Report via e-mail that will provide them with a quick snapshot of the activity that has taken place on the site

* Office Live Basics, Office Live Collaboration and Office Live Essentials will each have different reports that will include storage and bandwidth use, unique visitors and page views, and referring domains