Microsoft Aims to Give Windows More Mobility

Microsoft wants to reframe Windows for mobile devices.

Microsoft wants to reframe Windows for mobile devices. To that end, the software maker has formed a Windows Client Mobility Marketing Team to devise new marketing methods, find new partnerships and research more mobile-friendly features for future Windows upgrades.

While small—run by Mika Krammer, director of Windows product management and consisting of fewer than 20 people—the groups existence signals a shift in thinking and emphasis toward mobile computing at Microsoft. "Its time for Microsoft to play a bigger role in mobility in terms of in--creasing mobility, educating and driving trends in the marketplace," said Krammer in Redmond, Wash.

The team has put forth some broad goals, in--cluding pushing toward more-feature-packed mobile computers in the UMPC (ultramobile PC) space and the ultraportable notebook PC category as well as in full-size and desktop replacement notebooks. The group also aims to ensure that Microsofts Windows operating system for PCs and the Windows Mobile operating system for handhelds can work together more smoothly.

However, one of the teams first assignments is to help develop themes for marketing Windows Vista notebooks. One theme, "staying in touch," involves tying together the communications capabilities inherent in Vista with add-ons such as WWANs (wireless WANs). A "collaboration" theme will emphasize Vista features such as Windows MeetingSpace, which lets notebook users use Wi-Fi radios to connect their PCs and share files or stream presentations and, thus, collaborate on the fly.

Market researcher IDC expects notebook PC sales to expand from 65 million units in 2005 to about 148 million units—or close to half of all worldwide PC shipments—in 2010.

However, some wonder if Microsoft shouldnt be doing even more. Microsofts new groups aim "makes a lot of sense," said Richard Shim, an analyst with IDC, in San Mateo, Calif. "A lot of the PC industry growth is being generated from the mobile market right now," he said, but mobility "should be something thats on the minds of everybody there."

Microsoft plans to deliver Vista widely in January. Aside from Vista service pack updates, the next update to Windows, "Fiji," isnt expected until at least 2008.

In the interim, the group will work to find new partnerships with hardware and software makers. One such project is to further the development of VOIP (voice over IP) software for small and midsize businesses, Krammer said.

Going Mobile

Although small, Microsofts new Windows Client Mobility Marketing Team has a big job to do. Among its priorities are:

* Marketing Work with PC makers to help those companies outline benefits of Windows for mobile users

* Collaboration Seek new hardware and software partners in areas such as software for UMPCs

* Research Gain user feedback on Windows XP and Vista and translate that into suggestions of new features for future Windows versions