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Bill's big deals go MIA – rolls out MSN Mobile 2 instead

AT&T, BT, Sprint don't provide keynote-fodder after all

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Numerous dogs didn't bark when Bill Gates delivered his keynote speech at Wireless 2000 in New Orleans yesterday. A leaked memo earlier in the month had trailed a dazzling list of deals Microsoft was on the point of clinching, and which Bill could use for his keynote, but they seem to have been delayed. Microsoft has done deals with Nextel and Airtouch to support Microsoft MSN Mobile 2.0, which is intended to extend MSN services, including Hotmail, to wireless clients, but whatever happened to the really big deals? British Telecom, AT&T and Sprint didn't make it into Bill's speech, and as we expected, the Airtouch deal hasn't been converted into a much sexier, global deal with Vodafone-Airtouch. And that's not all. Microsoft has a stake in Nextel, bought last year, and has strong - albeit complicated - relations with AT&T and BT. But IBM announced a corporate wireless alliance with AT&T last week, and one with Nextel the week before. Big Blue had already done a deal with Sprint covering the same territory in December. All of these are in the same space as the current Microsoft-BT corporate wireless pilot occupies. Microsoft sees the provision of servers and BackOffice systems for corporate wireless users as one of the ways forward in this market, but it's becoming clear that the Suns and IBMs of this world are going to provide it with stiff competition. So what happened? Did Bill's speech writers get over-excited and over-optimistic about what could be achieved before February 28th, or was it all spin, a deliberate leak intended to bounce a few telcos into a deal? Whatever, as the big names weren't available to salute, Bill was forced to fall back on his old friends from Qualcomm to produce a Pocket PC-based reference design for CDMA wireless systems. Still a bit niche, this one, and then there's the small matter of the Symbian-Qualcomm deal announced yesterday as well... ® See also: Leaked MS email reveals deal plans with BT, AT&T, Airtouch

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