Microsoft has revamped its Windows Mobile 5.0 platform to support push-based email services, in a move seen widely as a bid to allow Pocket PCs to compete more effectively with RIM's successful BlackBerry corporate email client.
The software giant unveiled a Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0 based on wireless features in Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 2 which includes what it dubs Direct Push Technology.
The update allows Outlook information - including email, calendar, contacts and improved support for Tasks - to be pushed from a direct connection between Exchange Server and a Windows Mobile-based device.
Microsoft pointed out that the upgrade means that push-based services can be rolled out "without requiring businesses to pay for additional servers or middleware".
Elsa Lion, analyst at Ovum, believes that Microsoft's move will not sound the death knell of the BlackBerry.
"The Direct Push email and PIM functions appear to turn the combination of Exchange Server 2003 and newly released Windows Mobile 5.0 devices into a lower cost alternative to RIM's BlackBerry. So is this a BlackBerry killer? We don't think so," she said.
"To begin with, RIM's key differentiators are stronger than ever. Blackberry is a mature product that offers a consistent experience and a good balance between corporate security requirements and the need for a good user experience. "
Lion added that, in its first release, Microsoft's push email is unlikely to compare in terms of functionality and, crucially, security features with BlackBerry.
"The scalability of the Microsoft platform is unlikely to be a deal winner with RIM's exclusive set of customers. BlackBerry deployments on average are small and not tens of thousands of users," said Lion.
The update also adds wireless support for contact information, allowing over-the-air lookup of global address list information stored on Exchange Server.
The software is also designed to streamline the management of device security policies through functionality offered in Exchange Server 2003 SP2.
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