MS announces portal for mobiles, Nextel stake

Microsoft is developing an Internet portal for users of wireless portable devices and is taking a $US600 million stake in Nextel Communications to bolster its ability to deploy the service.

The company will launch the new portal later in the year when it upgrades its MSN Web site, Microsoft said yesterday in a statement. The new portal is designed to be accessible by mobile phones, pagers and handheld computers, including devices using Microsoft's Pocket Internet Explorer for Windows CE.

Portals are Web sites that compile a wide variety of content, services and links to other sites.

The new Microsoft portal will allow the 40 million users of Microsoft's Web-based e-mail service, Hotmail, to read and respond to e-mail and access address books stored on the site. Users will also have access to news, sports and weather from MSNBC Web sites, stock updates and other Web-based content.

Future plans for the service include electronic commerce applications, such as the sale of tickets via handheld terminals, Microsoft said.

Microsoft will attempt to sign up mobile network providers to offer the service, officials said. Nextel Communications, with its 3.15 million customers, will be the first provider to work with Microsoft to offer the service, Microsoft said. As part of the agreement, Microsoft is investing $600 million in Nextel.

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