Microsoft, Telstra debut Pocket PC phone

Microsoft and Telstra will attempt to lure businesses into the wireless PDA market with the launch of a new Pocket PC Phone Edition 2002 in Sydney today.

Codenamed o2xDA, the device is a fully integrated, GSM/GPRS-equipped mobile phone and PDA with voice and text messaging capability. It integrates with Microsoft's Outlook, Excel, Word, Internet Explorer and MSN Messenger applications.

The unit has a touch-sensitive colour screen, provides Internet and WAP access, and is a dual-band mobile phone giving users access to Telstra's network in Australia.

Priced at $1699, Microsoft said the device was geared more towards the business market than to consumers.

"At the [small and medium-size business] level, customers want productivity. People don't spend their whole day behind the desk," said Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer at today's launch.

"By taking the applications they use in a business environment and putting it on one portable device with [Microsoft] applications and infrastructure - and Telstra's high-speed connnectivity -- we've created a solution which gives people productivity," said Telstra Retail's group general manager, Ted Pretty.

Ballmer said the vision behind o2xDA was to give the knowledge worker the tools to access and deal with information on the go.

"I had one, but my wife took mine. It's the kind of thing you use for information retrieval and it has nice voice technology too," he said,The two partners plan to ramp up development work on a new suite of wireless-enabled applications, work which would involve up to 400 formal developers from Telstra as well as Microsoft's worldwide developer network, according to Pretty.

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