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Microsoft and Vodafone: mobile web service standardisation

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Microsoft and Vodafone are to develop XML-based specifications for mobile web services standards.

Microsoft has selected telecoms operator Vodafone to help lead development of XML-based specifications for convergence of fixed and mobile applications.

Microsoft and Vodafone are to work closely to create web services standards that can extend desktop applications to mobile devices. This could help extend Windows applications to mobile devices giving the desktop franchise new areas of growth.

On October 13, Microsoft and Vodafone announced that they plan to unveil a roadmap of technical specifications later this month, at Microsoft's Professional Developers' Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles.

Calling their work an "industry call to action", Microsoft and Vodafone are inviting industry feedback and introduced a series of workshops, beginning in London next January.

The web services roadmap was announced by Microsoft chief software architect Bill Gates and Vodafone group strategic relationships director Ian Maxwell.

Mr Gates and Mr Maxwell's announcement was couched in the language of broadening market opportunities for mobile developers and desktop software vendors.

The roadmap, though, continues Microsoft's attempt to subtly stamp its hallmark on web services standards whilst working with a revolving door of partners.

In the world of desktop and server-based computing, Microsoft has collaborated with IBM to develop XML specifications and standards for web services. In April 2002, the companies published the WS- roadmap outlining a series of planned security, routing, business process and other specifications.

Since then, the companies have consistently met that roadmap, working with a shopping list of partners such as BEA Systems and VeriSign where appropriate, while completely ignoring any similar, external efforts.

The announcement appears to indicate that IBM's usefulness does not extend to the mobile sector, and Microsoft is attempting to repeat its success with, arguably, IBM's counterpart in the mobile and cell-phone based computing sector. Vodafone is a global telecommunications player with 123 million customers.

Standards could open a back door to broader mobile success for Microsoft's struggling Smartphone operating system. Windows is being steamrollered by Sun Microsystems' Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) in Asia while Nokia, the world's largest handset manufacturer, has resisted Windows on its devices.

Developing specifications that integrate with Smartphone and the limitations of mobile devices would potentially increase the operating system's appeal to operators. Standards could also help extend the desktop-bound Windows applications to mobile devices, breathing additional life into the desktop franchise.

Source: Computerwire/Datamonitor

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