Microsoft's take on the Palm alliance
Microsoft's PressPass recently interviews their own Pieter Knook about the now historic Palm-Microsoft alliance.
In the interview we learn that "for the last couple of years, we [Microsoft] have been talking with Palm about how we could bring the two companies together," and that Microsoft thinks that now is right time for this alliance because "a key factor in the timing is that the wireless market has matured to the point where people understand the critical role that software integration plays for mobile devices."
Knook goes on to explain how well the "new Palm Treo with Windows Mobile provides businesses with a really solid, easy-to-use device built on powerful software that integrates seamlessly with the back end that they are familiar with today."
Knook also explains some of the top features Palm has added to Windows Mobile: "the device allows users to contact people quickly from the Today Screen and choose between home, office or mobile numbers, or select e-mail or SMS text-messaging service and theres no need to pull out a stylus. With only two letters entered, a customer can find a record from among thousands of contacts. New application programming interfaces (APIs) in Windows Mobile 5.0 allow users to reach the people they most often call via photo speed dials visible as a band of images on the Today Screen. A feature that Palm had been unable to implement with Palm OS enables users to decline a call with a friendly SMS, signaling In a meeting or Talking with the boss instead of simply ignoring the call. And the new Treo allows users to rewind, delete or fast-forward through work or cell phone voicemail with familiar and consistent on-screen icons."
When Microsoft and Palm, along with Verizon Wireless, announced a strategic
alliance last week, the two former software rivals unveiled more than a new line
of Treo Smartphones for mobile professionals and businesses.
Based on the Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system, the first of the new
devices the Windows Mobile based Palm Treo will be available in the U.S. on
the Verizon Wireless national wireless broadband network and marks the first
time handheld-computer pioneer Palm will sell a device based on Microsoft
software. To learn more about what this historic alliance means to customers,
developers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), PressPass spoke with
Pieter Knook, senior vice president for Microsofts Mobile & Embedded Devices
PressPass: Palm and Microsoft were longtime rivals in the mobile space.
Why have they decided to partner on this?
Knook: Even when we competed, theres a great deal of trust and
admiration between Microsoft and Palm. They will be a great partner and a great
OEM, and in developing the new Palm Treo, theyve been able to do a lot of
things because of the power of Windows Mobile and other Microsoft software. Its
been a great experience on both sides. For the last couple of years, we have
been talking with Palm about how we could bring the two companies together. Palm
was an OEM licensing the Palm operating system, and they had said they were open
to building different devices on different platforms to meet different customer
needs. Their business customers have made it clear to them that they prefer the
Microsoft operating system, an integrated software platform across their
business that lets them expand the PC, software and applications infrastructure
that they have today. Businesses have invested heavily in these systems and they
want to enable their employees to access these systems while they are on the go.
Palms customers know that Palm makes a great device, but they are excited about
what Windows Mobile will enable, so were providing that opportunity to reach
PressPass: What about the timing of the strategic alliance? Why now?
Knook: While we have been discussing this for some time, the time is
right to announce this alliance and to announce the development of this new
device. A key factor in the timing is that the wireless market has matured to
the point where people understand the critical role that software integration
plays for mobile devices. Palm, Microsoft and other companies that sell mobile
solutions to businesses are hearing the same thing that companies consider a
phone to be like any other device or computer on the network. An IT manager
needs to give employees access to information on the network without having to
think about what piece of hardware theyre using to access that information
(laptop, desktop, Smartphone) or how they access that information (via Outlook
Web Access on a laptop, virtual private network (VPN), or the Internet.
That has not been the case to date. First-generation mobile solutions from other
companies have required a business to add specialized infrastructure usually
servers and a lot of software just so the business can give an employee a
limited-function mobile device. This approach is not scalable as organizations
consider widespread deployments. There is a strong demand among businesses to
make their employees more productive when theyre on the go, and they understand
the value of enabling people to access information wherever they are. In order
to deploy these solutions to all of their employees in a scalable,
cost-effective way, IT managers need to be able to manage Smartphones just like
they do other devices. Good solutions such as the Windows Mobile-based Treo
integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and Small Business
Server on the back-end and products like Microsoft Office on the desktop. The
new Palm Treo with Windows Mobile provides businesses with a really solid,
easy-to-use device built on powerful software that integrates seamlessly with
the back end that they are familiar with today.
PressPass: What is the broader significance of the partnership?
Knook: The winds are changing in mobile computing. The wireless industry
is fairly young. The number of people that access corporate e-mail wirelessly is
a drop in the bucket about 10 million depending on which analyst firm you talk
to. We see a huge opportunity here and so does Palm. For example, if you have a
Windows Mobile-based device and you have Microsoft Exchange Server in the back
end, you can access all the messaging software you have in Exchange all the
data in Microsoft Office Outlook such as your e-mail, calendar and contacts
and you can send it seamlessly to a mobile device without any additional
infrastructure cost, just like you would on a PC. Consider that Exchange has
about 130 million users, according to a conservative estimate by Gartner, and
the significance of the partnership is clear. The same seamless integration
opportunity also exists with Small Business Server customers so you can see that
the prospect for seeing sizeable growth is there.
PressPass: Since other companies are building Smartphones on Windows
Mobile, what is the special significance of the Treo Smartphone?
Knook: It shows continued strong momentum for the Windows Mobile platform
in this space. Today, were working with 68 mobile operators in 48 countries,
and Palm becomes our 42nd active device-maker partner. We are seeing operators
offer customers a line of Windows-based devices. With the new Palm Treo00,
Verizon Wireless will have four Windows Mobile-based devices on the market (the
most in the United States). T-Mobile has five different devices available
internationally, from data-centric devices with QWERTY keyboards for the mobile
Information Worker to phones that with a distinct focus on music.
Also, the collaboration is significant even industry-changing for the Palm
developer community, which is a thriving developer ecosystem. This represents a
huge opportunity for developers to create Windows mobile applications for the
Treo Smartphone, with the added advantage that what they build for the Treo will
work on all Windows Mobile-based devices with little to no additional
PressPass: Please describe the new Windows Mobile-based Treo. What are
some top features?
Knook: The target user is the mobile information worker people who have
to stay in touch with the office. The device will work on Verizon Wireless
broadband wireless network at speeds of 400 700 kilobits per second, which is
faster than most Wi-Fi networks. The new Treo will be CDMA-only, but GSM
versions will be available later in 2006. One of the elements we have worked on
for a long time with Windows Mobile is componentizing the platform in a way that
allows OEMs or mobile operators to brand their unique experience. Palm had an
impact on the development of Windows Mobile 5.0, just like many of our OEMs
have. The company is bringing its simple, easy-to-use user experience to this
product, taking that customization to a new level while maintaining the
underlying platform so that applications will run across all Windows
The new Palm Treo has a full QWERTY thumb keyboard, and since it runs Windows,
you get Outlook Mobile, Office Mobile fully integrated on your device, along
with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile and Internet Explorer Mobile. Palm really
focused on the one-handed phone experience so you get that along with all the
functionality of a great QWERTY device. As far as top features, the device
allows users to contact people quickly from the Today Screen and choose between
home, office or mobile numbers, or select e-mail or SMS text-messaging service
and theres no need to pull out a stylus. With only two letters entered, a
customer can find a record from among thousands of contacts. New application
programming interfaces (APIs) in Windows Mobile 5.0 allow users to reach the
people they most often call via photo speed dials visible as a band of images on
the Today Screen. A feature that Palm had been unable to implement with Palm OS
enables users to decline a call with a friendly SMS, signaling In a meeting or
Talking with the boss instead of simply ignoring the call. And the new Treo
allows users to rewind, delete or fast-forward through work or cell phone
voicemail with familiar and consistent on-screen icons.
PressPass: What about availability of the Treo ?
Knook: The device will be available in early 2006. No pricing information
is yet available.
PressPass: Does Microsoft plan similar alliances in the future?
Knook: Were always interested in talking with other companies. We now
have 42 device-maker partners that are shipping Windows Mobile-based products,
such as Samsung, Motorola, HP and Dell. If any of our OEMs have specific
requests, we consider ways that we can make those a reality for them. Our goal
continues to be focused on building a great operating system that enables a wide
ecosystem of partners to build innovative devices and we are very excited about
the future and what our devices makers will continue to bring to market.