Microsoft offers new services for mobile devices
This week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft is showcasing the next generation of Windows® phones, introducing new mobile services for Windows® phones and highlighting strong momentum for its family of Windows Live mobile services. PressPass sat down with Bart Wojciehowski, general manager for Mobile Services within Microsoft’s Mobile Communications Business, to learn more about how mobile services fits into Microsoft’s integrated PC, Web and mobile strategy.
PressPass: It sounds like services are becoming more important to Microsoft’s mobile strategy. Can you explain what you are doing in this space?
Wojciehowski: You bet. First off, it’s really exciting to be part of Microsoft’s mobile services efforts right now. People all over the world are looking to mobile services to improve the way they find and share information, stay in touch with the people they care about, and have fun on their phones. The services they are looking for on the phone are frequently the same ones they use and are familiar with on the Web and PC, such as Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Photo Gallery, MSN, Search and more. This gives Microsoft an incredible opportunity –– to deliver great mobile offerings for these services in ways that help people make the most of their mobile experience.
Microsoft is also making a huge bet on the next generation of Windows® phones, and mobile services are at the core of the experience. Mobile services like the ones I mentioned and new ones we’re announcing this week are tightly integrated into the entire Windows® phone experience. This allows people to connect their PC, Web and phone experience in new ways that will greatly enhance the way they use their phones every day.
PressPass: Can you tell us a bit more about the two new services CEO Steve Ballmer announced at Microsoft’s Mobile World Congress press conference: My Phone and Windows Marketplace for Mobile?
Wojciehowski: Sure. Our mobile services engineering, product management and marketing teams have been working very hard on these new services. We’re excited that we’ll be able to deliver them to customers this year.
Specifically, Steve previewed two new services that will be shipped on Windows® phones this year. The first is a service called Microsoft My Phone, which syncs text messages, photos, video and contacts to the Web. This is a free service that allows people to access, manage and back up their personal information on their device to the Web, making it easier to upgrade their phones without the worry of losing important information. Consumers will also be able to wirelessly update photos and video from their Windows® phone directly to the My Phone service, making it simple to share content that, in the past, would have lived and died on the phone. It’s important to note that the My Phone service is available in a limited invitation-only beta right now.
The second new service is Windows Marketplace for Mobile, a rich and integrated place for searching, browsing and purchasing mobile applications from Windows® phones or from a PC. The new marketplace will be available with all Windows® phones based on Windows Mobile 6.5, which will allow consumers to easily find, install and experience applications that fit their needs and make the phone truly personal.
PressPass: Can you tell us more about how the Windows Live mobile services are doing?
Wojciehowski: The Windows Live and MSN family of mobile services are doing really well right now. As you know, these services have been around for some time and they are picking up incredible momentum around the world. An increasing number of our 500 million Windows Live users on the PC are starting to engage in their favorite Windows Live services on their phone. There are a range of ways people can take advantage of Windows Live on their phone –– from feature-rich client suites to services optimized for use through the mobile internet browser and alerts delivered via text messages to the phone.
PressPass: Microsoft is highlighting Windows Live momentum, especially in the partner space with mobile operators and ISVs. It sounds like partners are an important part of the Windows Live mobile services business. Can you tell us more about those relationships and what it means for Windows Live mobile?
Wojciehowski: Partners are definitely a big part of our business. The only way we are able to effectively deliver our Windows Live experience to the vast majority of people around the world is in conjunction with our mobile operator and independent software vendor (ISV) partners. To give you and idea of how important our partners are, we have more than 100 mobile operators delivering Windows Live services in more than 45 countries. We also have over 100 different development partners working with us to build great Windows Live experiences on hundreds of mobile handsets around the world.
What we’ve announced at the Mobile World Congress are several very important mobile operator and ISV relationships that will significantly expand our ability to engage customers. This is particularly true in Latin America, where we’re extending our collaboration with mobile operators América Móvil, Telefonica, Personal S.A. and Movistar. Taken together, these alliances will help ensure that Windows Live mobile services, MSN Mobile, Live Search and others are offered and promoted to Windows Live users in more than 20 countries and on over 300 million mobile phones.
We’re also excited to extend our partnership with Gemalto, the world’s largest SIM card provider. It is currently offering a SIM-based client solution for Messenger in Latin America. This broader global relationship promises to make Windows Live Messenger available on millions of mass-market handsets in the next few years.
PressPass: Aside from partner momentum, are there any new product upgrades we should know about?
Wojciehowski: There are several things to highlight that pertain to recent service enhancements. The first is the new mobile.live.com home page. This is a new hub for a person’s entire Windows Live experience, bringing together feeds from Hotmail, Messenger buddies, personal and friends’ photos, MSN and other information sources. This one unified page will help people stay connected to the people and information they care about.
This week we’re also introducing an enhanced Windows Live Hotmail alert service. This will allow people to be notified with a text message when they receive an e-mail from a particular contact. For example, you could set up the system so you receive text message alerts when you get an e-mail from a specific family member — like your brother. From there, people can click on a link included in the text message to easily access Hotmail from the mobile Internet browser on their phone. Last, we’re introducing other Windows Live alerts that send people their Windows Live contact and calendar information and give them the ability to change their personal status on Instant Messenger through text messages.