Microsoft announces Windows Mobile Push Technology


Microsoft will add push email capability to its Windows Mobile 5.0 platform for handhelds and smartphones later this year. Updated code will ship in October along with Service Pack 2 for Exchange 2003, which will add the necessary support into the groupware server product, Microsoft said today. The Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 will enable direct push delivery of email, calendar, contacts and tasks information from Exchange 2003 to users’ handsets, and will also improve security and give IT staff better management control over such devices.

Microsoft said the update delivers the same experience as other push email systems, such as RIM’s BlackBerry products, but without the expense of an additional relay server and extra client licences required by many third-party systems.

“The headline is we’re enabling flexible, scalable messaging for customers,” said Jason Langridge, Microsoft’s UK Mobility business manager. Microsoft has already deployed the technology itself at its Redmond headquarters, according to Langridge, where over 20,000 users are connected using just two Exchange servers.

From Exchange, administrators will be able to enforce a password policy on user handsets, Microsoft said. This could be used to set a device to lock itself or wipe all data after three incorrect password attempts. Firms can also use two-factor authentication to verify users connecting to Exchange, by inspecting a digital certificate stored on the handset in addition to requiring a password.

Other features include support for Secure/Mime (S/Mime) to encrypt and digitally sign emails, and the ability for users to look up the global address list on their firm’s server. “So I can easily look up [a colleague], get their telephone number, and save it locally to my handset,” said Langridge.

Microsoft acknowledged that most customers will still be running older versions of Exchange Server, but said the new capabilities were a compelling reason to move to Exchange 2003 SP2. “If you look at the benefits of scalability and security, it’s a good reason to upgrade,” Langridge said.

Customers buying Windows Mobile 5.0 handsets between now and October will also be able to upgrade them over-the-air via their carrier or handset maker, Microsoft said.