Bill Gates took center stage at Telecom World 2003 to tell a nearly packed auditorium that Microsoft Corp. aims to equip enterprises, carriers and individuals with technology to bridge the PC and mobile worlds more easily, efficiently and, above all, securely.
Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, speaking Monday at the International Telecommunication Union-organized event, zeroed in on what has clearly emerged as the main theme of the Geneva show -- mobility. His message was that software is vital not only to power the PC and mobile worlds but also to bridge them. And Microsoft, which spends several billion dollars annually on research and development, will invest heavily in mobility software platforms moving ahead.
As an example of the U.S. giant's determination to be a major player in the mobile space, Gates pointed to the company's agreement announced here in Geneva with Vodafone Group PLC to help create tools for programmers to develop applications for both PCs and mobile devices.
The goal is for developers to use existing Web services technologies, like XML (Extensible Markup Language), to link the mobile and computing worlds. But they require new mobile Web services specifications that describe, for example, how a GSM network's authentication system exchanges data with a PC application using Web services security protocols, Microsoft officials here said.
Microsoft plans to unveil a road map for the new services specifications later this month at its developers conference, Gates said. It will also hold workshops for developers. Information about the joint initiative with Vodafone is available at: www.microsoft.com/mobilewebservice/
Greater bandwidth capacity, both on fixed and wireless networks, will help telecom companies provide a wealth of new services, such as real-time conferencing, imaging and interactive TV, Gates said. He made a pitch for the company's new software that will allow cable and telecommunication operators to deliver new and existing TV services over broadband Internet connections.
The prototype software, which Microsoft is calling an Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) delivery system, is being shown here at the Geneva show.
Squeezing in a word about security -- widely seen as the company's Achilles' heel -- Gates said Microsoft will continue to invest heavily in designing software that can avoid attacks, including unsolicited e-mail. "One of the particular topics that will be addressed is spam," which is widespread in the PC world and is beginning to surface in the mobile environment, he said.
Gates showcased several other mobile software developments announced here at the show, including enhancements to the company's Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems intended to better support Wi-Fi access.
With its new WPS (Wireless Provisioning Services) technology, Microsoft aims to help not only business and private users connect to wireless LAN (WLAN) hotspots more easily and securely, but also telecommunication operators to provision and manage these networks more simply and cost-efficiently. WPS technology consists of two components: server software used by telecommunication service providers in the backend; and client software installed on notebooks or other mobile devices.
Users of handsets with Microsoft's Windows Mobile 2003 software for Smartphones are generating higher volumes of data traffic, resulting in new revenue streams for mobile operators, according to Gates. The company has added several enhancements to software running in the new SPV E200 handset, he said, introduced by the U.K. subsidiary of France's Orange SA last week.