February 15, 2006, 10:15 AM — Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer gave the first public demonstration of some Windows Live for Mobile services at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday.
Windows Live is the brand under which Microsoft is pulling together a range of personal, Web-based services. Some are new and some are updated versions of services it already offers, such as Hotmail or MSN Messenger.
One new service is Windows Live Mobile Search with local search, designed to return results relevant to a particular location. From the stage in Barcelona, Ballmer showed how he could use a mobile phone to find a map to locate a bar -- in London. A beta version of the local search service is already available for users in the U.S., while the U.K. beta version demonstrated by Ballmer will be available Wednesday.
Microsoft is investing time and money in mobile search. On Monday, the company announced its acquisition of French software company, MotionBridge SA, which develops search tools for mobile network operators.
"The acquisition of MotionBridge is really significant," said Bena Roberts, wireless analyst with Current Analysis Inc. "Mobile search technology is becoming a big issue with mobile operators."
Ballmer also showed the soon-to-be-released Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile software running on a smart phone and linked over the air to a computer running Office Live Communications Server. Using the software's presence notification function to find a colleague online, Ballmer then placed a VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) call to that person from the smart phone. The company expects to offer Live Communications Server users a version of Communicator Mobile for download within about two months.
With such services, Microsoft aims to offer mobile workers access to some of the same features they use at their desks. Key to this is the ability to synchronize data stored on the mobile device and the desktop computer, a feature that Ballmer showed off by demonstrating a function of the Windows Visa operating system due for release later this year.
Windows Mobile Device Center will enable synchronization of data, contacts, pictures and music.
Ballmer also took time to demonstrate some new mobile phones on display at the show that contain Microsoft's Direct Push e-mail delivery software. Among them were Hewlett-Packard Co.'s iPaq hw6900 Mobile Messenger and Asustek Computer Inc.'s ASUS P305 smart phone for 3G (third-generation) mobile networks.