Microsoft goes mobile: Microsoft has put its stamp of approval on wireless. Find out where Microsoft mobile technology will take you today ... and tomorrow.HOW DID WE EVER get by before wireless technology? Walk into a Starbucks and you'll see as many laptops and PDAs as you do lattes and biscotti Biscotti (plural of Italian biscotto, roughly meaning "twice baked") are crisp Italian cookies often containing nuts or flavored with anise. Traditionally, biscotti are made by baking cookie dough in two long slabs, cutting these into slices, and reheating them to dry . The growing requirement to support wireless devices is driving innovation in the technology market. So, it should come as no surprise that the 800-pound gorilla of computerdom com·put·er·dom
The world of computers and those who use them. , Microsoft, is moving heavily into mobile technology. And, as is often the case with Microsoft, it isn't just dipping its toes in the water; it's making strides on a number of fronts. In this article, I'll survey Microsoft's different mobile technology initiatives and their impact on mobile computing Using a computing device while in transit. Mobile computing implies wireless transmission, but wireless transmission does not necessarily imply mobile computing. Fixed wireless applications use satellites, radio systems and lasers to transmit between permanent objects such as buildings .
Microsoft mobile technologies
The range of Microsoft's initiatives is impressive. Based on the Microsoft platform, a software developer will be able to develop applications that process speech, accept tablet input, and work on any number of smart devices. If you're a mobile device user, you'll be able to access mobile data anywhere and at any time on a variety of devices, including standard PDAs, intelligent phones, tablet PCs, handheld PCs, and a host of other smart devices. In short, Microsoft is moving on all fronts to extend its technologies well beyond the standard PC.
Let's take a look at each effort in more detail. Microsoft's mobile technologies fall into two broad categories. For operating systems Operating systems can be categorized by technology, ownership, licensing, working state, usage, and by many other characteristics. In practice, many of these groupings may overlap. and hardware, it has initiatives focused on several different smart devices. For solution developers, Microsoft is building a set of tools for delivering mobile applications and content to those devices--all based on Windows, of course.
Operating systems and hardware
On the operating system operating system (OS)
Software that controls the operation of a computer, directs the input and output of data, keeps track of files, and controls the processing of computer programs. front, Windows is still the primary focus. The Pocket PC 2002 version of Windows is a big hit with the business community and has proven to be a strong rival to Palm OS. You can even get the Windows experience on cell phones, thanks to Microsoft's Smartphone technology.
Microsoft Pocket PC 2002
Pocket PC 2002, the latest incarnation of the Windows-CE-based PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) A handheld computer for managing contacts, appointments and tasks. It typically includes a name and address database, calendar, to-do list and note taker, which are the functions in a personal information manager (see PIM). operating system, powers the familiar HP iPAQ, Toshiba Pocket PC, and Dell Axim The Axim Family of personal digital assistants was Dell's line of Windows Mobile-powered Pocket PC Devices. The first model, the Axim X5, was introduced in 2002, while the final model, the Axim X51, was discontinued on April 9, 2007. devices, which have become commonplace in the business environment. With Internet Explorer Microsoft's Web browser, which comes with Windows starting with Windows 98. Commonly called "IE," versions for Mac and Unix are also available. Internet Explorer is the most widely used Web browser on the market. It has also been the browser engine in AOL's Internet access software. and MSN Messenger Microsoft's instant messaging (IM) service, which provides text messaging and voice calling. Part of the MSN Network, MSN Messenger clients are available for non-XP versions of Windows, Mac, Pocket PC and MSN TV. For Windows XP, the IM client is Windows Messenger. installed and the ability for PDAs to access wireless connections, Pocket PC has become a popular platform for mobile users. In addition (as you'll see in the next section), there are a wide range of development tools for building applications for the Pocket PC platform.
The latest focus for the Pocket PC platform is building smartphone solutions. This lets users trade a cell phone and PDA for a device that combines both feature sets, although with a heavy PDA focus. T-Mobile has one of the first Pocket PC smartphones on the market. It offers Internet access See how to access the Internet. from anywhere, at any time. (For more information on the T-Mobile Pocket PC phone, see Ken Getz's ADVXSOR EVAL in the January/February issue of MOBILE BUSINESS ADVISOR.) Clearly, the Pocket PC operating system continues to he the brightest star in Microsoft's mobile universe.
STATUS: The Pocket PC platform is real, and has been Microsoft's most successful foray into Verb 1. foray into - enter someone else's territory and take spoils; "The pirates raided the coastal villages regularly"
encroach upon, intrude on, obtrude upon, invade - to intrude upon, infringe, encroach on, violate; "This new colleague invades my the mobile market thus far.
Windows CE (Windows Consumer Electronics) Microsoft's version of Windows for handheld devices and embedded systems that use x86, ARM, MIPS and SHx CPUs. Windows CE .NET superseded Windows CE 3.0. .NET
This version of the Windows operating system is targeted at embedded devices including PDAs, TV set-top boxes, and data collection terminals, to name just a few. It includes Internet Explorer for Internet access, XML XML
in full Extensible Markup Language.
Markup language developed to be a simplified and more structural version of SGML. It incorporates features of HTML (e.g., hypertext linking), but is designed to overcome some of HTML's limitations. Web services (1) Loosely, any online service delivered over the Web. Such usage appears in articles from non-technical sources, but not in IT-oriented publications, because definition #2 below describes the correct use of the term. , and many of the features of the .NET platform. It also supports Bluetooth, 802.11b, and other wireless protocols. The goal is to provide the familiar Windows platform for everything from specialized and standard PDAs to Internet appliances, to GPS navigation See GPS. devices.
With the support for the .NET development framework, CE .NET also lets .NET developers create applications to run on embedded devices. Combined with familiar Microsoft Office Microsoft's primary desktop applications for Windows and Mac. Depending on the package, it includes some combination of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook along with various Internet and other utilities. technologies and Internet Explorer, the Windows standard is being brought to a number of devices.
STATUS: This product is shipping and available for use. The Microsoft site features several case studies of where it's being used in heavy industry, for intelligent consumer devices, and targeted general business use.
Microsoft's Smartphone platform turns the Pocket PC phone model on its head. Instead of trying to integrate the phone into the PDA format, basic PDA features are integrated into the phone. The major features include Pocket Outlook, Pocket Internet Explorer A version of Microsoft Internet Explorer for the Pocket PC operating system. , MSN Messenger, and Windows Media Player Digital jukebox software for Windows from Microsoft that plays a variety of audio, video and streaming formats including MP3, WMA, CD audio and MIDI. Starting with Version 6.2 in 1999, the Windows Media Rights Manager was added for securing copyrighted content. . Developers can use an SDK (Software Developer's Kit) See developer's toolkit and Windows SDK.
SDK - Software Developers Kit (or "Software Development Kit"). to build smartphone-specific applications with embedded Visual C++.
STATUS: Smartphone is relatively new technology and, as of now, is only supported by one network: Orange, a wireless carrier in the UK. The promise of running familiar applications in a PC format--including having access to the Internet--is compelling. However, it's unclear whether this operating system will take off in mainstream consumer cell phones.
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is an edition of Windows XP intended for specially-designed notebook/laptop computers called tablet PCs. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is compatible with a pen-sensitive screen, supporting handwritten notes and portrait-oriented screens.
Through the years, there have been many attempts to implement pen-based computing See gesture recognition and tablet PC. . Microsoft has made another attempt by extending Windows XP The previous client version of Windows. XP was a major upgrade to the client version of Windows 2000 with numerous changes to the user interface. XP improved support for gaming, digital photography, instant messaging, wireless networking and sharing connections to the Internet. to the tablet format. The main twist between this version and others is that some of the models change from a traditional laptop to the tablet format with a turn of the screen, making the device much more versatile.
One of the key requirements for utilizing the tablet is to be able to take it anywhere and capture handwritten hand·write
tr.v. hand·wrote , hand·writ·ten , hand·writ·ing, hand·writes
To write by hand.
[Back-formation from handwritten.]
Adj. 1. information as needed as needed prn. See prn order. . Built-in wireless access is a common feature on the first released versions of the tablet PC. It will be interesting to see if consumers and businesses find the tablet PC a useful mobile form factor and if it gains broad acceptance.
For more details on the tablet PC platform, see Nancy Nicolaisen's article in the January/February issue.
STATUS: Many computer manufacturers, including HP and Toshiba, are actively selling tablet PCs. You can even buy one at your local CompUSA. However, it's unclear whether cost and the limitations of digital ink will prevent the tablet PC platform from taking off in non-niche markets.
Are you surprised by this one? Microsoft is still pursuing the handheld PC concept. But, you know the going is tough when the first question on the product's FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) A group of commonly asked questions about a subject along with the answers. Vendors often display them on their Web sites for use as troubleshooting guidelines. is, "Why is Microsoft creating a new version of the handheld PC?" With the handheld PC, Microsoft is trying to reach users who need smaller screens and ultra-portable PCs, but without the functional limitations of PDAs or the size and battery constraints of a laptop.
For mobile access, the handheld PC supports wireless access with certain cards, standard modem access, and access via a cell phone interface. The operating system is Windows CE, not Pocket PC 2002.
STATUS: These PCs might be a good fit for niche uses in the enterprise. It's hard to say if there will be a strong demand for this format.
Building mobile applications
In the early days of the computing industry, Microsoft gained a strong presence because of the ease with which developers could build applications. When Visual Basic first came out as a simple graphical approach to building Windows applications, the Windows software market took off. Microsoft hasn't forgotten that lesson and is working on a set of initiatives to empower today's developers to easily support the mobile world with existing skills and tools.
Mobile Internet Refers to gaining access to the Internet using a lightweight, handheld device. See Mobile IP, PDA, smartphone and mobile TV. toolkit/ASP.NET mobile controls
Building on the concept of extending existing development platforms to mobile development, Microsoft has released the .NET mobile controls. These are a set of server-side controls for developing ASENET Web pages targeted at mobile device display requirements. The controls support standards-based devices. Microsoft continues to add device support for the controls and provides an SDK for building custom device support.
The key value of the controls is they let developers use standard .NET programming languages such as Visual Basic and C#, along with development platforms such as Visual Studio .NET A suite of programming languages and development tools from Microsoft that supports the .NET environment. Upon its introduction in 2001, it included Visual C# and .NET versions of Visual Basic and Visual C++. See .NET. . This taps into the millions of developers who are experienced with developing on Microsoft platforms with Microsoft tools. And, of course, the controls are provided for free.
STATUS: This product has been recently released and is in its 1.0 version. Microsoft continues to add to the number of devices it natively supports.
.NET Compact Framework
Microsoft's goal for the .NET Compact Framework is to help millions of Microsoft developers develop Windows applications for "smart devices" including PDAs, phones, TV set-top boxes, etc. It leverages familiar programming languages such as Visual Basic for building smart device applications. The framework is targeted at developers who need to build applications that will run on Windows CE. NET versus browsing Web pages over a wireless connection.
Advantages of the .NET framework include managed code, Web services, and native XML support for developing mobile applications running Pocket PC 2002/Windows CE .NET.
A key goal of the framework is to support the unique capabilities of target devices. You can add devices (and features specific to those devices). Microsoft's goal for .NET is to make it the primary development platform for all its operating systems. By adding the device-targeted focus to the larger framework, it's leveraging that vision for smart devices.
STATUS: Microsoft just released the .NET Compact Framework to manufacturing. Beta users of Visual Studio .NET 2003 beta can use the framework and build production applications.
SQL Server An earlier relational DBMS from Sybase and from Microsoft. Sybase introduced SQL Server in 1988 for various Unix versions. In that same year, with help from IBM, Sybase created an OS/2 version that Microsoft licensed and branded as Microsoft SQL Server. CE 2.0
For databases in mobile smart device environments, Microsoft has developed a small footprint version of its enterprise-level database, SQL Server. SQL Server lets applications store data completely offline or sync data to enterprise servers when connected. Again, Microsoft is leveraging widely used technology for the mobile market.
From a developer's perspective, SQL Server CE requires a minimum of 1MB of memory for installation and supports most data types and relational features of the full version of SQL Server. Developers can also embed SQL Server CE with Windows CE .NET into devices. This is a powerful way to collect real-time data Real-time data denotes information that is delivered immediately after collection. There is no delay in the timeliness of the information provided.
Some uses of this term confuse it with the term dynamic data. while disconnected from the network. Merge/replication features automate the syncing of data with enterprise SQL Server databases users reconnect to the network.
STATUS: SQL Server CE is a mature product and has been in the marketplace for some time.
One of the more interesting technologies Microsoft is actively working on is .NET Speech. The technology is based on the industry standard Speech Application Language Tags For other meanings of the word salt or acronym "SALT", see salt (disambiguation).
Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) is an XML based markup language that is used in HTML and XHTML pages to add voice recognition capabilities to web based applications. (SALT). The technology is delivered as a set of ASP.NET controls that enable speech-based Web applications and an add in for Internet Explorer. For the mobile market, developers can use the technology to build speech-enabled Web sites that will make interfacing with small devices simpler.
A potential scenario for using speech technology would be for use on Pocket PC PDAs. The user could open Internet Explorer with the speech add-in and access a speech-enabled Web page. The user would then speak into the PDA and have speech processed with appropriate actions taking place. Speech is a much more natural input mechanism for PDAs and other small devices that make typing and writing tricky.
True to its heritage, Microsoft is focused on supporting the mobile development community. It has a Web site targeted at supporting mobile device developers (see the Resource Link section). This Web site provides technical details, access to SDKs, and other useful resources for empowering mobile development with Microsoft tools and platforms.
As part of this effort, Microsoft has also launched an initiative called Mobile2Market. This program lotuses on certifying Pocket PC and Smartphone applications. Applications certified by Microsoft will carry a certification logo guaranteeing it runs on Microsoft mobile technologies. The benefit is the ability to access the Microsoft marketing machine to bring exposure to the certified mobile applications.
Extending the Microsoft power base
Microsoft's push into the mobile market is advancing on a number of fronts. It's following industry standards and trends for most of its initiatives and innovating in a few areas such as the smartphone platform and speech processing Speech processing is the study of speech signals and the processing methods of these signals.
The signals are usually processed in a digital representation whereby speech processing can be seen as the intersection of digital signal processing and natural language processing. .
From a developer's perspective, Microsoft provides a wide range of Windows-based tools for developing for the mobile market and significant development support resources. From the user's perspective, technology options continue to proliferate, with many of them powered by Microsoft technology and software built on Microsoft tool sets.
There's no doubt Microsoft is focusing on the mobile market and intends to extend its domination of the PC to mobile platforms.
MOBILE BUSINESS BENEFITS
Microsoft's role in the IT market has been one of "validator" as opposed to "innovator." Even though you won't see a lot of new technology from Microsoft, it is pushing to make existing technologies ubiquitous for the consumer.
For more information on all of these technologies check out the following URLs:
Pocket PC 2002: http://www.microsoft.com/mobile /pocketpc/default.asp
Windows CE .Net: http://www.microsoft.com/windows /Embedded/ce.NET/evaluation/default.asp
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/tabletpc/default.asp
Handheld PC: http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/handheldpc
.NET Mobile Controls: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/nhp /Default.asp?contentid=28001370
.NET Compact Framework: http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/device/compactfx.asp
SQL Server CE: http://www.microsoft.com/sql/CE/default.asp .Net Speech: http://www.microsoft.com/speech
MOBILE2MARKET: http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/developer/developerprograms /default.asp
Mobile Device Developers: http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/developer/default.asp
Noel Jerke is an author and independent consultant with a broad range of experience managing information technology and developing software solutions. His clients have included the American Diabetes Association The American Diabetes Association, or the ADA, is an American health organization providing diabetes research, information and advocacy. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association conducts programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, reaching hundreds of , Martha Stewart <noinclude></noinclude>
Martha Stewart (born Martha Helen Kostyra on August 3, 1941) is an American business magnate, author, editor and homemaking advocate. She is also a former stockbroker and fashion model. , and the Air Force, email@example.com.