Microsofts FonePlus OS Could Offer Low-Cost Computing

Microsoft is showing off a prototype of a cell phone operating system that it might end up fielding as a low-cost computing platform for the developing world. (Microsoft Watch)

Download the authoritative guide:

REDMOND, Wash.—Add to Microsofts lower-cost computing alternatives designed for the developing world a new cell phone operating system, known as FonePlus.

Microsoft officials showed a prototype of the platform at the companys day-long FAM (Financial Analyst Meeting) here on July 27.

Microsoft has been dabbling with a number of different platforms with which it is hoping to attract potential first-time and/or less affluent users.

Among these initiatives, of which some are commercially available and others are in the test and/or research-prototype phase, are Windows XP Starter Edition, FlexGo and Internet kiosks.

/zimages/1/28571.gifGuru Jakob Nielsen offers advice on designing applications for usability. Click here to watch the video.

But for the poorest people—individuals located primarily in developing nations who own almost no electronic devices beyond TVs, and, increasingly, cell phones—PCs are not within their budgets.

Thats where FonePlus fits in, according to Craig Mundie, Microsofts chief research and strategy officer.

FonePlus is a Microsoft Research project at this point. It currently consists of WebTV technology running on a cell phone.

"Could this be your first computer?" Mundie asked rhetorically.

Such a device, whether running Windows CE or some other Microsoft operating environment, would be able to open and read e-mail, run a suite of productivity applications akin to the PocketOffice suite that runs on Windows Mobile phones today, surf the Web and access online video content, Mundie said.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead the full story on Microsoft Watch: Microsoft Hedges Its Platform Bets with FonePlus

/zimages/1/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.