Microsoft woos mobile operators

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October 14, 2003

Microsoft wants to use .Net to provide PC services through mobile networks, and hopes that mobile operators can be persuaded to buy in if they see that it can make money.
 

Speaking at ITU Telecom World 2003, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and Vodafone chief executive Ian Maxwell unveiled work on a new standard to deliver data services through mobiles.
 

The companies want developers to integrate mobile network services such as messaging, location, authentication and billing into their applications.


Gates said that a technical road map for the proposed standard would be published later this month, with a series of workshops beginning in early 2004 to discuss feedback.
 

But Keiji Tachikawa, president and chief executive of Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo, insisted that Microsoft had to learn from its past failures to persuade operators to adopt a proprietary approach.
 

NTT DoCoMo rejected Microsoft's Passport authentication technology because the software giant had not been prepared to make it an open standard. But Tachikawa has left the door open on this initiative.
 

"We do understand that Microsoft is making it clear that it will be entering the mobile business. As long as it keeps its standards open we will be interested in utilising its technology," he said.
 

Analysts believe that operators will climb onboard if Vodafone can make the model work.
 

Steve Brazier, president and chief executive at analyst Canalys, told vnunet.com: "Operators are desperate to drive data revenues and have finally recognised that most of these revenues will come from the enterprise.
 

"They are desperate to prove that they have a role to play in the data space other than providing bandwidth." Gartner analyst Nigel Deighton added: "Mobile operators are strong in micro-payments, authentication and roaming. "It is not that great a leap to see Microsoft using this technology to charge for software on a per usage basis."

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