Q&A: Mobility Developers Hear How Wireless-Data World Awaits

LONDON, April 17, 2002 — Some 1,000 developers and other technology-industry representatives with a stake in speeding the development of wireless applications have convened here this week from around the world for the first-ever Microsoft Mobility Developer Conference. Topics at the at the two-day event include mobile application development, next-generation wireless services, and the evolution of wireless data. PressPass spoke with Juha Christensen, Microsoft corporate vice president of mobility, about Microsofts strategy for supporting the emerging wireless data economy.

PressPass: What is your message to developers attending the Mobility Developer Conference?

Christensen: That the development skills, tools and standards they have applied in the wireline world, are transferable to the emerging world of wireless data. There is tremendous opportunity for innovation, and for creating both customer and business value. And the announcements Microsoft is making here this week illustrate our commitment to supporting that innovation.

PressPass: One of those announcements involves Microsofts .NET Compact Framework. Can you explain what that is and what it means for developers?

Christensen: The .NET Compact Framework is a subset of the .NET Framework that is designed to run on smart devices and provide support for XML Web services and managed code. The .NET Compact Framework greatly reduces the development cost of writing applications and services that run on devices such as smartphones and PDAs. Because the .NET Compact Framework provides the same classes on devices as on the desktop, every .NET developer who works on desktops and servers will automatically be able to write applications for Pocket PC devices, as well as future devices running Windows CE .NET.

PressPass: Why hasnt the market for wireless data exploded yet? What are the barriers?

Christensen: Were getting there, but the user experience just hasnt been good enough for widespread adoption. The key ingredients are devices, software and services, and the networks. This is the year that integrated, wireless Windows Powered devices, including the Pocket PC Phone Edition and the Microsoft Smartphone 2002 will come to market, and we hope they will be a catalyst for the wireless data economy. These solutions offer the necessary foundation for advancing wireless data access, and will vastly improve the user experience with rich color screens, and powerful software with superior functionality.

PressPass: How do wireless carriers fit into the wireless data economy?

Christensen : Carriers have an extremely important role to play in the distribution of wireless devices and services over their networks and in their knowledge of and interaction with the end customer. We see carriers as a very important partner to us. We want to help them attain and retain customers through the availability of high-value wireless devices and services.

On the device side, our approach allows carriers to partner with a hardware manufacturer to customize and even brand the phones and handhelds they offer. We believe this approach will bring about much wider consumer choice, device proliferation, and enable the operators to create segmented solutions to their customers, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all phone.

On the software side for carriers, we will support industry standards and work to ensure the quality of wireless applications and services so they are network-ready and reliable.

PressPass: How do you ensure the quality of software and services for Windows Powered devices?

Christensen: One of the announcements we are making at the show is a new program for doing just that. Were introducing a process to certify wireless applications for Windows Powered Pocket PCs and Smartphones as reliable and network-ready. Called Mobile2Market, the initiative will supply ISVs and mobile operators with a streamlined infrastructure for the certification and deployment of reliable mobile applications. It will also enable a new economy around the creation, certification and delivery of these mobile applications. For example, partners like Handango and Veritest will expand their business around certifying applications; application vendors will have a new customer in the wireless carrier, and wireless carriers can provide value and derive new revenue from these wireless data applications.

PressPass: This week marks the second anniversay of the Pocket PC software. How is the product doing and how is demand for PDAs changing?

Christensen : What the Pocket PC has shown in the PDA market is the importance of software. Given the choice and means, people do want to do more with a PDA than just manage their schedule, and the Pocket PC has shown that. Developers are targeting the Pocket PC more than ever. If you go around to mobile-industry shows, youll see the most innovative applications being demonstrated on Pocket PC-based devices. I do believe were now the leader in technology innovation. Its certainly a happy birthday.

What is Microsofts overall vision for mobility?

Christensen: Mobility is a core part of Microsofts overall corporate vision — to empower people with great software any time, any place and on any device. People want to have access to their personal and business information no matter where they are, and they dont want to have a compromised experience when theyre mobile. Intelligent software running on technology leading mobile devices, which can access next-generation wireless networks — this is what we are working towards. To get there, Microsoft will need to build partnerships, support standards, and provide powerful mobile device software platforms that empower the developers and manufacturers who target them, the carriers who deploy them, and the people who use them.

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