Microsoft, Motorola smartphone extends PC into pocket

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Motorola and Microsoft today launched the Windows Mobile-based Motorola MPx200 smartphone in Australia.

Motorola and Microsoft today launched the Windows Mobile-based Motorola MPx200 smartphone in Australia.

'The MPx200 is the first step to extending the desktop into the wireless environment,' said Alan Nicklos, managing director of the Personal Communications Sector, Motorola Australia.

'I believe this will be the next powerful tool. The next explosion in the handset business,' he said.

Describing the Microsoft-Motorola partnership as an 'incredible step forward', managing director of Microsoft Australia, Steve Vamos said: 'Here is a device that finally shows that convergence [of technology] is here.'

Business group manager for Microsoft, Calum Russell described the MPx200 as a natural extension for businesses into the wireless environment.

The phone features mobile editions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Outlook and Windows Media Player, MSN Messenger, and features an external display, speakerphone, SD memory and mini-USB connectivity. The phone is capable of matching partial phone numbers with names, and features HTML WAP browsing, and multimedia functions.

Calum Russell said that the phone is a wireless and mobile extension for the desktop PC.

'I don't even need to take my laptop anymore,' he said.

According to Russell, what really sets the phone apart from the rest is its ability to synchronise with PCs.

'You can synchronise by connecting to the desktop or wirelessly - this is critical,' he said.

'Integration is the critical differentiator,' added Microsoft's Vamos.

The phone can also handle common Microsoft Office documents, but required third party software to be purchased. According to Russell, there are no default viewers for Office because 'there was not a huge demand in people wanting to deal with Office files.'

'There are a couple of thousand applications developed for the Windows Mobile platform, and you download and purchase these off the net,' said Russell, also adding that many vendors will be also producing security and firewall software for the device.

Despite the recent assault on Windows by email viruses, much of the data security surrounding the MPx200 appears to lie on the other side of the air waves.

'The data coming to the phone is already screened by operators. Data is not forced on you and you choose what you want to fully view,' said Rusell.

A Microsoft spokesperson added that many operators are working on letting users back up your phone to servers.

'Service providers can protect you by wirelessly wiping all data from a lost phone, lock it and even make it scream 'I am stolen'.

Another feature making the phone more 'security friendly' is the lack of a camera. A Motorola spokesperson said this makes the phone more appealing to sensitive organisations like government deparments.

Motorola previously worked with other operating systems for their phones, and according to Nicklos, they still would.

'This is a strategic alliance - we are still involved with Linux. However, it is true to say that we've moved away from Symbian,' he said.

Describing Motorola as one of the more formidable forces in the industry, Nicklos said, 'Our strength is radio. The top three manufacturers are all strong in radio. We bring this strength to win mobile'

The Motorola MPx200 comes with a 16MB SD card and is available nationally through Optus Mobile retail and business sales channels for $849. The price includes the phone and accessories only, and does not include a mobile plan.

While Optus is currently the only retail provider, other outlets are being considered by Motorola.

'We're working with others as we speak,' a Motorola spokesperson said.

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