Microsoft Takes MotionBridge for Mobile Search

The software giant plans to integrate technology from MotionBridge, a provider of search tools for mobile operators and wireless devices, with its MSN and Windows Live services.

Microsoft announced that it has purchased MotionBridge, a maker of mobile Internet search technologies marketed to wireless carriers, for an undisclosed amount of money.

First detailed by Microsoft officials at the 3GSM World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain, the acquisition will be used to extend the search capabilities already offered by the software giants MSN online business unit.

Based in Paris, MotionBridge currently provides its mobile device Web search tools to major carriers in North America and Europe, including Sprint, T-Mobile and Orange.

In addition to expanding MSNs search capabilities, Microsoft said MotionBridges products, which include its Classic platform for feature phones and its Wizard search engine for smart phones, will be integrated with Windows Live services.

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Windows Live, a new set of Web-based productivity applications including a revamped version of Microsofts Hotmail hosted e-mail service, is expected to be officially launched sometime in 2006. Microsoft introduced beta versions of some of the Windows Live services in late 2005.

/zimages/6/71099.jpg Microsoft officials, based in Redmond, Wash., framed the deal as an important step in advancing the companys products beyond the desktop and onto the growing variety of mobile communications devices.

"The emerging field of mobile search is strategically important and crucial to delivering on our vision for Windows Live of providing a seamless and rich information experience for individuals and businesses across devices," Christopher Payne, corporate vice president of MSN Search at Microsoft, said in a statement. "With MotionBridge, we are excited to continue to offer mobile operators the tools to maximize the value of their content and data networks, and provide a powerful search engine for mobile users."

Among the specific elements highlighted by Microsoft in its plans to integrate MotionBridges products were the technologys ability to produce longer lists, or "clusters," of mobile search results, as well as its ability to integrate with wireless carriers back-end systems in order to support more sophisticated applications.

Under the terms of the deal, MotionBridge will continue to support its existing wireless operator customers.

The MotionBridge acquisition is one of a handful of major announcements being made by Microsoft at the 3GSM show, as the software market leader aggressively pushes to leverage its dominance on the desktop and in corporate IT infrastructures into a bigger slice of the wireless technology sector.

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Most notably, the company unveiled a new wireless e-mail client meant to compete with Research in Motions dominant BlackBerry devices. Microsofts client, Direct Push, will be offered by carriers that include Cingular Wireless, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

Introduced as part of the software makers emerging Windows Mobile 5.0 platform for wireless devices, the client will be integrated with Microsoft Outlook, which is the most popular desktop e-mail application in the world.

Microsofts Mobile and Embedded Devices division, which recently filed its first-ever profitable quarter, also signed a deal with Palm in 2005 to have its software loaded onto the device makers newest Treo handhelds, which have already reached the market.

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