Microsoft Corp. is aiming to make it easier for Exchange Server 2003 users to get business data out to their mobile workers.
At the Tech Ed conference in Orlando, Fla., this week, Microsoft will release a feature pack for the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system that will enable businesses to push e-mail messages from Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 to smart phones and PDAs.
By pushing the e-mails directly from the Exchange server, corporations wont need to purchase additional middleware or pay the monthly user fees required by most third-party push e-mail solutions.
Despite Microsofts ominous move into the rapidly expanding market for wireless push e-mail services, however, mainstays such as Research In Motion Ltd. and others still hold some key advantages over the Redmond, Wash., software maker.
Microsofts feature pack wont work with older versions of Exchange or with competitors e-mail servers, and devices with the new functionality arent expected to hit the market until this fall. "If, in fact, it is as seamless as theyre marketing it to be, it would significantly reduce some of our support costs," said Peter DeNatale, vice president of IT for the Mentor Network, in Boston, which is moving to Exchange 2003. "RIM is very expensive to support."
"Mobile messaging right now is really a niche market, and we think the reason is because it has been expensive and complex," said Microsoft spokesperson Scott Horn. "We want to really crack it open."
In addition to pushing out e-mails, the new feature pack will include other capabilities for mobile workers and IT managers. For example, users can submit address book queries to Exchange to have a co-workers contact information pushed down to their devices. IT managers will be able to remotely set and enforce password policies on devices or wipe out lost or stolen devices.
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