Microsoft (Quote) is introducing Windows Mobile 6 in the
hopes of making inroads in the enterprise handset market.
The new platform now allows users to edit Microsoft Office applications on their handheld devices. The company said this and other enhancements to its mobile client will help it gain traction in a market that has been dominated by Research in Motion (Quote), Palm (Quote) and others, by giving customers a user experience that more closely resembles what they get on their PC.
The challenges have been adding PC-type capabilities and applications in a
manner that doesn’t hog too much memory and making those applications
usable on a small screen.
“That’s been a key strategy for us from the beginning,” John
Starkweather, product manager for Microsoft’s Windows Mobile and Embedded
Devices group, told internetnews.com. “We haven’t added the big windows, but we added things you only used to be able to do on a PC.”
According to Starkweather, the Mobile 6 platform uses a compact version of
the .Net framework and a mobile version of SQL server to deliver more
applications without creating a memory shortage. “By building those things
into the platform, you can have a lightweight application in terms of memory
with all the features built in,” he said.
Mobile 6 also allows customers to add customer relationship management
applications and other third-party business tools. And a new security policy included with the new client allows users to wipe
their devices on their own if they lose them.
“A lot of IT departments are busy, or people are embarrassed to say they
lost their device, so this way people can go in and self-administer,”
He also noted that the new client allows customers to view e-mail
in HTML format, including e-mail from Web-based and POP mail servers, which
means customers can read embedded charts and click on live links to
documents located on SharePoint servers.
Will this be enough to crack the enterprise nut?
According to Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with the Yankee Group, Microsoft has
struggled to get traction for its mobile clients in the enterprise space in
large part because the user experience is significantly different from what
customers are used to getting on the desktop.
“They’re going to have to close that gap if they’re going to become more
relevant in that space,” Kerravala told internetnews.com.
Kerravala noted that enterprises have yet to take full advantage of the fact
that wireless access is becoming more and more common. “You can take
advantage of that ubiquitous connectivity to raise people’s productivity
during those, what I call ‘anytime’ times,” he said.
Chris Hazelton, who follows the mobile device market for research firm IDC,
said the new ability to edit Office documents will be important to mobile