3GSM World Congress -- the annual love fest for the global cellular industry, which starts today -- will be the venue for an array of new products designed to give enterprises ever more capabilities, control and security over mobile computing.
Microsoft is unveiling at the Barcelona, Spain event the latest iteration of its Windows Mobile operating system. Separately, Nokia will showcase the first fruits of its acquisition of mobile middleware vendor Intellisync , with a new release of that company's Mobile Suite software.
Sponsored by the GSM Association, the conference is expected to draw about 60,000 attendees, up from 50,000 last year, with exhibits by some 1,300 vendors, including carriers and mobile operators, their equipment and software, handset manufacturers and a growing crowd of content providers.
Windows Mobile 6
Analysts say Windows Mobile 6 is an evolutionary advance over Version 5. The emphasis, they say, has been on exploiting for handhelds features found in Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, simplifying the experience of actually working with the user interface, and adding more controls for enterprise network administrators.
Among the new features:
-- Information rights management: users and administrators now can restrict who sees, edits, stores and forwards email and attachments, to protect sensitive data.
-- Encryption of client-based storage cards, support for Exchange Server security and certificate policies and options.
-- New mobile versions of .Net Compact Framework and SQL Server, for integration with existing enterprise applications.
-- One-click connection over Bluetooth or cable to use a smartphone as a modem for a handheld.
-- Support for HTML email: URLs and phone numbers included in emails now appear as live links.
-- Searching the corporate Microsoft Exchange Server from the handheld for past e-mails.
-- All Microsoft Office Mobile applications -- Word, Excel, and PowerPoint -- now available on all variants of Windows Mobile 6 devices; users also now have full editing capabilities for all three applications.
-- Windows Live for Windows Mobile client, giving users integrated access to a range of online Windows Live services, including search and email.
-- A built-in VOIP client that can make use of contact data on the handheld to make and manage voice calls.
"Most of the features they've added are under the hood, many of them for IT managers," says Avi Greengart, principal analyst of mobile devices at Current Analysis. "If you're a corporate application developer with 500 users and you're trying to create a semicustom business application, and you can leverage existing Windows development resources, then Windows Mobile makes a lot of sense."
Nokia is releasing its Intellisync Mobile Suite 8.0, the first release to combine features of its Intellisync acquisition last year with code that Nokia developed for its Business Center product. Mobile Suite is a server-based gateway, used behind the corporate firewall, that links corporate e-mail servers, such as Exchange and Domino, with a wide range of mobile devices and operating systems. Two other parts of the suite handle device management and provisioning, as well as data and file synchronization.
In Version 8.0, Nokia has completely redesigned the user interface to create a consistent behavior across devices and operating systems, drawing on the work done for the Nokia Business Center. The emphasis for Version 8.0 was less on creating new icons and appearances and more on consistent functions and tasks, like opening an email on any supported device and having the options of replying via email, sending a voice mail or making a cell phone call to the sender, says Dave Grannan, general manager for mobility solutions in Nokia Enterprise Solutions group.
Nokia has also changed pricing. Previously, Intellisync cost $160 per mobile client. Nokia has reduced that to $129, but also now offers enterprises the option of buying a Mobile Suite server license for about $3,000.
That includes unlimited use of the basic Mobile Suite email client, which lets you reply and forward emails, but allows limited storage and lacks scheduling as well as access to a global corporate email director. Users can start with this server package, and then add more advanced email services as well as device management and synchronization as desired.