Pocket PC — The Wireless Wonder Turns 1

REDMOND, Wash., April 18, 2001 — Last year, Keith McNally leapt at the chance to work with Microsoft and make life a little easier for businesses and consumers.

“The people at Microsoft have helped us in every way we’ve asked, and together, Microsoft and my 25-person company have made a big impact on the wireless world,” says McNally, founder and vice president of business development for Ameranth Wireless, Inc., a San Diego-based wireless system software provider to the hospitality industry.

Ameranth Wireless is one of many Microsoft partners, who in the past year have brought the productivity, performance and the power of a PC in a pocket-sized device to enable any time, any place access to information for the enterprise user and consumers. This month Microsoft, along with hardware manufacturers including Casio, Compaq and HP, mark the one-year anniversary of the Pocket PC.

It has been, “amazing,” says McNally, whose company was present at the launch last year of the Pocket PC in New York City’s Grand Central Station. He marvels at the support that Microsoft has provided and the progress of the past 12 months.

Ameranths “21 st Century Restaurant” gives restaurants the ability to use the Pocket PC tableside for wireless ordering and payment processing. Another collaboration between the two companies has equipped healthcare professionals with Ameranth software and Pocket PCs to better enable drug delivery to patients and reduce medical errors, McNally says.

“When we launched a year ago, we were a bit humbled,” explains Doug Dedo, group product manager for Microsoft’s mobile devices division. “We knew we hadn’t made a big dent in the market space. But we were certain we were on the right track. We needed to have some compelling software experiences for consumers, and at the same time, we had to deliver on our long-term plans of being an enterprise solution platform. Microsoft has worked with a broad range of hardware and software partners to ensure that the Pocket PC is the most versatile and useful device of its kind.”

Microsoft and Aether Systems Inc. have joined forces in the past year to provide Pocket PC users with real-time stock quotes and associated financial information. Brian Leonardi, director of product development for Aether’s financial services division, says that users can create and track their portfolios, set alerts and request a wide range of market content.

“We were real excited about the Pocket PC and knew it was a platform we wanted to put our wireless services on,” Leonardi says. “MarketClip data includes quotes and news and the ability to set up watch lists for groups of equities or other instruments that you might be interested in. You can generate nice graphs on the color screen. In fact, the display capabilities are some of the great features of the Pocket PC that sets it apart from other platforms.”

The software alliances that Microsoft has made, such as that with Aether Systems, continue to grow. Dedo says that companies are choosing the Pocket PC as a platform, even when it wasn’t part of their original business plan. “Once people take a look at our product, learn that our platform is more secure, expandable and easier to connect to the Internet and corporate networks and that we offer more support than any other mobile device in the industry, they were like, ‘Holy smoke, this is great!’ We are being inundated more and more by people who want to lead with the Pocket PC platform.”

The folks at J.D. Edwards & Co., for instance, say that when they started looking at wireless connections and handheld devices, they knew right away that the Pocket PC was the richest environment for optimizing its OneWorld solutions.

“When we looked at all the other devices, although they had basic interfaces, the Pocket PC allowed us to proceed with very few changes. It was a great fit,” says Michael Elges, senior manager of run-time technologies at J.D. Edwards. “The Pocket PC, from our perspective, is really an enterprise-level device that will handle a much more feature-rich environment.”

The optimization of OneWorld on the Pocket PC enables a wide range of mobile access scenarios, including order entry, inventory management, direct procurement and materials management, and customer management information. Businesses are better able to provide speedy customer service and increase operational efficiencies from anywhere.

For example, Elges says, a sales representative conducting a customer call could use a wireless-enabled Pocket PC to access real-time order status, inventory levels and open issues as well as resolve problems and input orders, all while on-site with the customer. “There are a whole slew of things you can do when you’re connected to the OneWorld system, and now you can do them from anywhere with your Pocket PC,” he says.

While Pocket PC competitors have focused their efforts on cosmetic changes in hardware, Dedo says that Microsoft has made strides in both spaces. He expects Microsoft to build on this momentum, making each generation of the Pocket PC even better than the one before — much as the company has done with the PC.

Pocket PCs already include a broad range of native business, personal productivity and entertainment applications, yet can easily be expanded to adapt to each customer’s changing needs through a continually growing number of industry-standard hardware and software expansion options.

In the future, Dedo says, business and consumer users should look for thinner, lighter and differently formed devices. He also says that Microsoft and its partners are working to deliver new and improved features requested by their customers — be it richer connectivity or wireless productivity.

“We’re going to continue opening up more things that people want to do on the platform,” Dedo says. “We’re seeing more wireless productivity options opening up and being readily available to people in transit, at home, at the airport or in the local coffee shop. We’re going to constantly look to increase our partnership opportunities and push the envelope based on customer demands. I think people are going to have their socks blown off by the next generation Pocket PC.”

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